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Meet the…..Uniforms?

3 Nov

Hilary Knight shows off USA Hockey's new uniform.

This week I was back in New York, this time for the podcast (you listen, right?!), where my co-host Alison and I went to Team USA’s 100-days-to PyeongChang kickoff celebration in Times Square. We were promised a “special announcement” during the press conference before the shindig opened, which made us think. On the Today show earlier that day they revealed Team USA’s Closing Ceremony uniforms…..could it be possible that we would get the reveal for the Opening Ceremony uniforms?

Um, no.

We got to see the new hockey uniforms.

I don’t want to say it was a letdown, but you could tell the hockey players were a little self-conscious about modeling the new jerseys and everyone was just pretty OK with all of them, much to the disappointment of the announcer. And I’ll admit, we kind of tuned out.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the work team who put together the jerseys was confused as to why people weren’t super-thrilled. These are the lightest jerseys yet! There’s something really cool about the patch! And many other features! They probably spent months (if not longer) working on them: sourcing, testing, overseeing manufacturing, etc. They had to have logged so many hours on this project, so much overtime getting it done by deadline, and we say meh??! Really?!?

Really.

I get it — this weekend my Facebook and Insta feeds are going to be chock full of WFTDA Championships-related posts. For the first time in seven years, I’m not there. Derby’s consumed a good chunk of my life–and I know the fun that I’m missing but I’m sure the general public doesn’t care. They’re probably surprised that roller derby is back–you know, they used to watch it on TV in the 1970s. Who knew it was back–and has been for over a decade?

Same goes with this podcast I’m now doing. We’re putting a lot of hours into it, and if you don’t like the Olympics or you don’t like (or know) what podcasts are, well, who cares. You just keep pouring your heart into it, Jill. Somebody will care. Maybe someday.

And that’s frustrating–but such is life. Not everything is noticed, and not everything’s a hit. But if you like your output, that should really be the basis of whether or not you’re satisfied with it. Sure, the recognition is nice, and of course you want your project to be a success, but it can’t be everything.

It’d be nice if I could end on that preachy little note, but I can’t. It’s easy to say, but hard to actually acknowledge and be OK with. The human side of me certainly doesn’t to hear it today, and I’m guessing that there many, many of you who also feel that way.

So here’s to hoping that our project, hobbies, and successes make us happy enough–and if you need some recognition, hit me up. I’d love to see more good creative work and hear about some awesome successes in whatever you do.

Coming Soon: Olympic Fever Podcast

8 Sep

Olympic Fever Podcast

We’re about five months out from another Olympics, which means that my case of Olympic Fever has been quietly raging for a while. If you remember, for Rio I tried having a blog, which while fun, was a lot of work and missed one essential element: The conversation.

One of my favorite things to do is talk about the Olympics, and without that element, it’s been hard to maintain the blog in the way that I’d like, which is namely, not a rehashing of the most recent news that’s posted as quickly as possible in order to get the most hits. Good research and writing takes time, and while I want to do that about the Olympics, that outlet became less and less of an ideal place as time went on. Also, posting is kind of one-sided. Blog comments just didn’t replicate the energy and excitement I feel when I can jaw about the Olympics with friends.

So I’m turning the blog into a podcast and calling it Olympic Fever. Each week my lovely co-host Alison Brown and I will be posting a ~30 minute episode that explores an Olympic story, includes some conversation, and preps you for the upcoming Games. We aim to find the unusual stories that make the Olympics what they are and why we love them–even if we know that there are tons of problems with them. We’re really excited about what we’ve got on tap so far, and we hope you’ll take a listen (if nothing, listen for the theme–I’m really proud of how that’s turned out)!

Does the Week End?

1 Sep

It’s a three-day weekend here in the US, which for me begs the question, does the week ever really end?

Yes, I love my job–I’m extremely lucky to be able to do something I love and make a living doing so. However, the work-at-home aspect and the fact that I am my own business means that the pressure to work is always there.

Work late? Wait, it’s past six? I’m in a groove though! I’ll just keep rolling! Two hours later, and then I’m looking at a late dinner, late bedtime, and what, I meant to exercise too?

Work on the weekends? Well, I see my desk….don’t mind if I do!

Snow day? What’s a snow day? My office is right here!

Plus, there’s always something to be done–if I’m not writing, then I’m supposed to pitch articles or invoice or file or do promotion or work on a side project or…..the list goes on to infinity.

Lately though, I’ve been trying to bring some sanity and structure to my schedule. If I shut down the computer after work in order to do some errands, it doesn’t come back on that evening. I try to have at least one weekend day where I’m not mostly in front of my laptop (because I am still working on a stack of books). And with a holiday this Monday? Maybe I’ll just go crazy and not even go near my desk at all!

I’m not holding my breath on that though–I’ve got a pretty sweet side project I’d like to tackle.

Update-o-rama!

23 Jun

It’s been a while since I’ve shared my writing accomplishments, so this week I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve published recently. April, May and June have been busy–some of the busiest months in my writing career–and exciting months in terms of how my career has grown. I’ve gotten the chance to work on a number of different writing styles, and I appreciate getting experience that expands my skills and has given me some interesting insight into a number of different topics. Here’s a look at the new types of work I’ve been doing:

Whitepapers

I’ve published my first whitepaper, “Managing ATM Security: Layered Approaches for 21st Century Issues,” with ATM Marketplace. First off, ATM security is tough these days–the kinds of attacks criminals and hackers develop are pretty amazing (and if they applied that creativity in a positive way, how would that help society?!), so financial institutions (or FIs, if you want to use some industry lingo) really need to develop multifaceted security approaches to ward them off.

Stringing

I’m really excited about my new gig as a stringer with GateHouse Media, the owner of WickedLocal-branded papers in the Boston area, because I’m redeveloping my skills in covering local news, writing on tighter deadlines and getting harder journalism experience. So far I’ve published pieces on Cambridge’s new retail strategy plan and its redevelopment of the Foundry Building. Gaining more insight on the region has been a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to writing more–future stories are in the works!

Content Producing

In May I had the opportunity to produce the copy for U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Low-Interest Credit Cards of 2017.” This project gave me a chance to work with a content producer, and I had a great experience with a collaborative editing process. Although it’s not a bylined piece, I’m really pleased with the finished product and got some insight into content production and how it helps publications in a world that requires constant content.

If you’re interested in learning more or have needs for a writer in these areas, please drop me a line!

 

Link

Censored!

19 May

A few years ago, I picked up this copy of Bill Buford’s Heat in a used bookstore. I’d heard good things about it and wanted to use it for research to get an idea of what it’s like to work in a restaurant kitchen.

Here’s the thing with used books: You never know what you’re going to get. I was reading away, enjoying the book, when I flipped the page to this:

Wait a sec–the black bar? What’s so bad that I shouldn’t read it?

I flipped the page and held the book up to the light. Oh, I thought. It’s “got cocky. Someone thought I shouldn’t read that.”

That made me chuckle, but as you might imagine from what I’ve heard about the back of house in restaurants, this was just the beginning of the censorship. A few fucks were crossed out, maybe some other words–the censor got really good with their blackout technique.

Then there was this choice:

 

 

 

So…..let’s cross out every time “fucking” was used, but “bastards” can stay in?

 

 

 

 

 

But the last straw was this:

 

This little passage must have gotten the censor really angry, because any word that’s part a sexual suggestion has been blacked out. Like “kissing.” Bad!

I don’t understand–if the book’s so horrid that someone was compelled to censor it, why even bother to make sure it exists anyway? Why not just recycle it back to the pulp from whence it came? I can’t imagine the couple of bucks they got for it really was worth the effort of all of this fine handiwork.

And if it was, this book certainly landed in the wrong hands, because I don’t give a fuck about they think.

 

Postcard from 29,000′

13 Jan

gold-status-expiring

Near the end of 2016, I started to get this email, which, as a frequent flier, sent me into a bit of a panic. See, I’d had Gold status on American for four years, and I rather liked it. Oh, I know what some of you might say–Gold doesn’t have a ton of perks and you can get most of those with a credit card that only has a $95/year annual fee–but why should I pay that if I’m doing the travel anyway? And if I’m traveling at least 25,000 miles a year, getting a free checked bag, early boarding, better seats and the possibility of upgrades is pretty nice (and I can usually snag an upgrade on a shuttle flight to or from Boston, which is sweet).

Extending my status wasn’t supposed to be a problem this year, but due to some family circumstances, I had to drop out of officiating a roller derby tournament in Vancouver–and that trip would have given me the mileage/segments to put me over the top for one more year.

Instead, I started getting the “extend your status now!” emails, and I did what anyone who has decent status in anything does: I worried. It’s not fun to lose perks, but it really wasn’t worth $399 to keep my status (nor was it worth opening up another credit card either).

However, with all problems, there is a solution, and for me, that was the mileage run. I quickly realized that I could fly to Dallas before the holiday travel season started, hang out in the airport for a couple of hours, and fly back to Boston for a fraction of the status renewal price.

This idea did not go over well at home. “You want to do what? Why?” asked the Boy. The Boy doesn’t like flying because he is very tall and doesn’t fit on airplanes very well. He doesn’t understand why people willingly fold themselves up into a tiny seat with Deep Vein Thrombosis-inducing amounts of legroom in the first place, let alone do it just to get miles.

I don’t bother to tell him that people will spend full weekends taking several segments through multiple countries in order to get Executive Platinum status. Even I think that’s a little extreme. I get it, but it’s extreme.

Needless to say, the Boy wasn’t thrilled about my plan, but I decided to spin it by calling it my very own writer-in-residence program. I’d have a quiet space and several hours for nothing but creative writing. It would be fine, great even!

And it was. I wrote about 3,500 words each way, banging out whatever came into my head. I have some short-short pieces and some beginnings to longer pieces–and likely a lot of garbage that was floating around my imagination. However, the goal was to write, and I did–I put my nose to the grindstone and cranked out some material, and that alone felt great.

I also wandered around DFW for a couple of hours–I actually had the faint idea that I could take the train downtown and get back in time, but I soon realized that where I needed to catch the train was too far away from my terminal to make that particular journey. Instead, I gave the Boy a status update while standing in the middle of a parking garage; I stumbled upon DFW’s chapel; and then went back through security. Then I decided it would be a good day for office holiday lunch, so I had a lovely sandwich and bubbly flight at Vino Volo before checking in with a client and getting back on the plane home.

Not that long after, I got this email:

gold-status-achieved

Achievement unlocked! But really, I had a fun, productive day that made me feel professional rejuvenated. Except now, I need to go back to that work, see what’s actually worth saving (Anne Lamott’s “Shitty First Drafts” comes to mind when I think of what gems this file of random writing might contain). Hopefully there’s work that’s worth exploring and expanding. But then I’m going to need more time for editing and sending out pieces, which I could do at home, but obviously, as I proved with this experience, when it comes to creative writing, I get more done when I’m on the move. Maybe it’s time to schedule some more writer-in-residence days. More air travel? Or should I see how well I work on the train next time?

Latest Travel Feature: Midwestern Fun in Valpo

6 Sep

I grew up about 45 minutes away from Valparaiso, so it was a real treat to get this assignment from AAA Midwest Traveler to write about the town and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore during fall. It’s a great time of year to visit and see a beautiful part of the country–then get a great meal from one of the many choices in Valpo.

We Dig These Dunes

Summer might be over, but it’s still beach time in northern Indiana.

Summer doesn’t have to end when the sun sets on Labor Day. September is a great time to hit the beach and enjoy the last warm days of the year — without the crowds. Lake Michigan offers some of the country’s finest dune areas, including Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park. Between the two protected areas, beachgoers can enjoy 15 miles of beach nestled between Gary and Michigan City, Ind.

Preservationists fought for decades to protect the area, succeeding with the development of the state park in 1925. In 1966, Congress created the national lakeshore along with the Port of Indiana. The two parks today have more than 15,000 acres of protected lands covering a variety of habitats, including marshes, prairies, bogs, and beaches.

Read more here.

Jazzing You Up

13 Apr

Freelancing is always interesting because you don’t know who you’ll end up working for and what you’ll end up writing. That’s the fun of the game though. When people ask me what I write about, I start going through a laundry list: credit cards, bridal, home, travel, corporate writing, etc.

Now I’m adding LinkedIn profiles to that list.

One of my roller derby officiating colleagues told me about an opportunity to write profiles for LinkedIn Makeover, so I went through a trial. I liked the work; they liked my work, and now I’m working with people from around the world who are trying to make better use of their space on this professional networking tool.

There are companies who do this? Well, sure. Just like there are companies that will help you write a good resume, there are companies who can help you maximize your professional presence online tool. LinkedIn Makeover’s founder Donna Serdula is really on to something, I think, as she recently described in Money Magazine’s online 30-Day Challenge: LinkedIn isn’t just a regurgitation of your resume, it’s a place where recruiters and other professionals can get to know you and hear about your expertise and accomplishments in a conversational way, much like an initial interview.

So far, it’s been really interesting work. I’ve met people from around the world who have some pretty amazing professional accomplishments under their belts. Seriously–I’m not one for cruises, but I worked with a cruise director who knew the clientele and planned such interesting events that I kind of wanted to book a cruise right then and there.

I’m also learning how to improve my own LinkedIn skills–it’s gotten me freelance work before, and I’m hoping that with a beefed up profile and more involvement on the site, it’ll help me get more work down the road.

At the very least, I’m being exposed to all sorts of careers, companies, industries and leadership levels. I’ve always been fascinated by how people do their jobs, and this gig helps me satisfy that itch, and I can help them show off their best side to help them network or find the next step in their career.

If you’re thinking, LinkedIn. Huh, I hear you. But the way business and social media work together today is really interesting, and if it’s important to you, it’s worth having a good LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn Makeover has a lot of good free tips and powerful profile examples to get you started on optimizing your own profile. Of course, we can help you do it faster for a price, but if you don’t have time or writing isn’t necessarily your strong suit, it might be worth it to pay a professional.

 

 

New Story Published!

5 Mar

Today I’ve got a fun announcement: Today Flash Fiction Magazine has published my story “Reflections on my Journey.” I’m really thrilled to be included on FFM–each day they post a great, quick read. It’s a great place to get a quick hit of literature. I’d go on, but really, a long piece about flash fiction doesn’t seem quite appropriate. Please check out the site though–you won’t regret it.

Report on National Readathon (and/or Cleanathon) Day

29 Jan

I apologize for the Blizzard of 2015 getting in the way of letting you know whether or not Future Jill’s predictions on National Readathon Day were accurate. You can get off your pins and needles today, though, because here’s the full story:

National Readathon Day was supposed to take place on Saturday. Noon to 4, me and the couch and some reading material. A tortilla chip thwarted those plans.

Saturday morning, I was in the kitchen, and I noticed a tortilla chip on the floor, so I bent over to pick it up and noticed some other floor junk by a corner of the stove. I’d been cooking and baking a fair amount recently, so maybe some other piece of food had fallen and needed to be picked up.

Or maybe it was a dead mouse.

A dead mouse in the kitchen causes a chain of events:

I say, “There’s a mouse!”

The Boy, who’s sitting at the kitchen table, quickly lifts up his feet and cries, “Where?!”

“It’s dead. It’s here by the stove.”

The Boy comes over to the stove to assess the situation, pronounces that the mouse is indeed dead (because it’s certainly not still sleeping on its side during all this commotion, unless it is one mellow mouse) and proceeds to dispose of it. This involves sweeping it into a dustpan, which [GORE ALERT] leaves a tiny trail of mouse guts and blood on our kitchen floor, and throwing it away.

When he comes back into the house, the proclamation is made: We have to clean up this kitchen.

Now.

And suddenly National Readathon Day becomes National Cleanathon Day.

We scrubbed everything–cabinets, windows, oven, garbage cans, refrigerator, and our personal nemesis, the floor. Now, we have a very nice white tile floor that’s got a little off-white pattern on it that hides the dirt a little bit. We discovered that this pattern does an amazingly good job because it was hiding a lot of dirt. A lot. Of dirt. We’d been cleaning with Mop & Glo, which apparently puts glow on the floor but doesn’t do a heck of a lot of mopping, because we both spent a couple of hours on our hands and knees scrubbing the floor with sponges and Mr. Clean, marveling at how dirty the water had gotten in our scrub bucket.

One we were done, the floor–and kitchen–looked fantastic, but man, did my shoulder hurt. Plus, I was too zonked to put in another four hours of conscious living, let alone reading. The readathon would be postponed.

On Sunday, it happened. Me, couch, book, a four-hour block of afternoon. I finished reading Can I Get an Amen? by Sarah Healy, which was an entertaining read–not earth shattering, but as someone who went to Christian schools, I could relate to the environment of a church-centered life and all of the characters that went with it.

When I finished the story, I still had about an hour to go in the readathon, so I thought I’d peruse the readers’ guide that went along with the book, then find something else to read. But the first question turned out to be a slap-in-the-face for me, and I stopped the readathon cold.

I don’t know why, but I still have a lot of hang-ups as a writer, and I know that constant practice, constant putting pieces together and constantly submitting those pieces for publication is really the only way to get to where I’d like to be. Why I won’t let myself do that is something I don’t quite understand, but this year I’ve decided I’m through wallowing. It’s not cute anymore, and it’s been going on so long that people shouldn’t still be sympathetic to my imagined plight. It’s time to make something happen, particularly in terms of finishing up creative writing, submitting it and resubmitting the rejected pieces (I’ve gotten some rejections lately, which is a step, but I need to keep searching for a home for those stories). It doesn’t have to be great or earth-shattering; it just has to be done.

So when I read the first question, which is about how the author got into writing, and the response is, “I never expected to be a writer. That I have managed to become one comes as the most pleasant shock,” followed by a lengthy description of someone who figured out what they wanted to do and then slowly and realistically made it happen, I got pretty disappointed in myself, and I wanted to do something about it, rather than continue consuming other people’s work. Not that reading isn’t important or that I shouldn’t make a more conscious effort to sit down for a longer period of time to enjoy doing it, but that I also need to get to work.

Future Jill got it partly right. I finished the book I’d intended to. I’m curious as to what Future Jill has to say about the result of that experience. I might ask her at some point, but I think already know what she’s going to say.

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