Snow

We had a little dusting of snow today. Area schools closed at 11:00 am. Hopefully the children were there long enough to count it as a school day. When I was teaching, if the children had lunch, we could count the day as a school day. I remember one snowy day when we escorted children to the school buses and handed them a styrofoam container of food as they got on the bus so that we could count the day as a regular school day.

I watched the snow drifting today. It was a better storm than the ice storm we had a few weeks ago. It even sounded different. The clack, clack, clack of the freezing rain and sleet was not present today.It was just lovely, silent white flakes that drifted delicately to the ground.

In checking my facebook “memories”, I noticed we usually get snow on February 12 every year. Perhaps schools will want to just call it a snow day, or reserve it in case it needs to be a snow day?

Because snow was predicted, I bought ten pounds of birdseed and the birds have eaten half of it. I put a new birdfeeder in the back yard near my cat’s window so she has something to watch. The little birds fascinate her as they land and eat and fly away. The other feeder is in the front yard.

I love snow because it’s so unusual in this area. I’m not sure I’d like it if it snowed every day.

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The Days Will Consume You

The sheer business of living will consume your time and actions, if you’re not careful. What started out as a week to write and video record in turned quickly into one with various forms to be filled out and letters to be written as I fight my battles with both the IRS and Nelnet. I find after hours of writing and copying and collating forms and letters for them that my energy and muse for writing has disappeared.

I think I must soon prioritize or my story will not get told and it must be told. You’ll know why when (if?) you read about it.

My son had paperwork that had to be handled today. My printer stubbornly refused to cooperate with his attempts to print out the pages. I had to get involved. Then a mistake was found and that had to be fixed.

I also had a doctor’s visit which lasted 4 minutes, but the wait for the doctor lasted almost an hour. That was a ridiculous waste of my time.

Then I stopped for a short shopping trip at Walmart on my way home. That took forever and I chose the wrong checkout line to get in. The woman ahead of me had a $300 order. She kept smiling and exclaiming her cupboards were bare! like that would cheer the waiting customers. Then don’t wait so long next time, I remember thinking. The truth probably was that she was spending a tax refund she’d just gotten.

My son and I went out for lunch and that was awful. Why is it that when a group of women go out together for lunch that they have to have a competition to see who can laugh the loudest or who can talk the loudest? At least three in the group were continuously yakking at the same time. They sat right behind us and they moved over two tables to go with the booth they occupied. It was a large group of noisy females. I wish they’d design a restaurant and call it Loud and Obnoxious for people who like to act that way and disturb other’s meals. My son and I had to move to another table to be able to hear each other talk. It honestly sounded like we had sat down in a crowded hen house as the cackling and screams and loud talk assailed our ears.

Then it was home and I called my friend to cancel. As it was, I was already 30 minutes late and I hadn’t even left to go there yet. I had plans to meet her at her house. I had no energy left to go with.

Did I mention my back windshield wiper stayed on almost all morning? My car is twenty years old. It has a mind of its own. I repeatedly turned the wiper off, but it stubbornly whish/whooshed back and forth across the rearview window. I just had a battery replaced in the car. I wonder if the electrical system is malfunctioning and that windshield wiper ran down my battery? That’s the second repair to the car in about six weeks. One more thing and I park it.

For the next seven days I hope to devote my time and energy to my main book. If I don’t put my foot down and claim my time, someone else will claim it for me. I want to write. This mundane unimportant life wasting stuff has got to end. I have things to do.

Extra Skills

As I begin my writing career in earnest, I realize I have skills the average writer may not have. I just finished typing cover letters to be sent with submissions. Typing a business letter comes with ease because I spent several years working in business offices doing that.

I proofread everything I write. This became a habit during my four years part-time employment with ECU University’s News Bureau. I worked my way through college as an employee there.

I’ve written all my life. It may not be a stellar novel or even a spectacular short story, but I have spent my life writing and editing and rewriting various things. I have written something almost every day of my life since I learned to write.

I’ve taken numerous writing courses as I tried to perfect my writing craft. Even now I look forward to taking James Patterson’s online writing course. The thing that is coming between me and his course is money. Just when I think I have enough money to sign up, the car breaks down, or we have a terrible cold snap and my money goes to keep transportation possible or to keep warm.  In every course I’ve taken, there have been ideas and wisdom gathered from the materials and/or the instructor. My favorite course was Truth Telling and Memoir Writing, which was a graduate writing course that I took as an elective at UNC Wilmington. I feared I might be out of my element, as I took the course as an elective. I was there getting a Masters Degree in Education. However, one evening, early in the course, my instructor asked me to stay late. I thought she was going to suggest that I drop the course. It was just the opposite. She told me I needed to find an agent.

So along the bumpy road of my life, I have gotten encouragement from various places that perhaps some other writers have not received. My letters to Dennis Rogers, who was a columnist for the News and Observer Newspaper, frequently were published in his “Letters and Leftovers” Friday columns. This was a boost to my ego and as people who knew me read them and sent me comments about them, I felt more like a writer.

When my oldest son was in elementary school, I wrote a column for the school newspaper. It was called “Tadpole Tidbits” (the school mascot was a frog) and what I did was interview various teachers and write about what was happening in different classrooms or on field trips, or on the playground. My column was to write about what children at Effie Green Elementary School did that was unusual.

While a student helper at ECU’s News Bureau, I proofread the articles the staff writers wrote daily. This showed me the way to format news articles and how to edit out the unnecessary parts.

I’m sure I’ve failed to mention other things that have affected my development as a writer. There has been so much encouragement and education about writing along the way. I wonder if other writers have had the vast amount of different experiences I’ve had that have helped me feel I can succeed? The passion is there. I don’t know why I haven’t taken time to try to be a successful writer before. Wait, yes, I do. Things that happened in my life and my three children who needed a full-time mother while I needed to also work a steady, dependable job, stole the time I could have used to become more noticed in the literary field.

The children are grown now. My dependable job is gone. I have no excuse. As I tried to think of excuses, all the wonderful things that have prepared me to succeed flooded into my head. I wrote about them. I reminded myself of all the wonderful reasons I can succeed as a writer. If I fail, I have no one to blame, but myself. The groundwork has been laid. It’s up to me now.

 

Kohls, Can You Just Get It Right?

On Sunday, January 31, 2016, I ordered two Panthers Tee Shirts from Kohls online. I paid $19.95 for two day shipping. The shirts themselves cost $55.00. Tax was $5.06. Here, I can copy/paste that info to show you the reason for the $80.01 charge to my card:

Subtotal$55.00
Shipping$19.95
Sales Tax$5.06
Total$80.01
The shirts were due to arrive on Feb. 3. I had company for Feb 3 and 4 and just this morning checked the tracking number because the shirts had not arrived. The Superbowl, that these shirts were ordered for, is Sunday, Feb. 7.
(Shipping Method
Two Day
Should arrive on Feb 03)
I’ve been communicating with Kohls Customer Service all day. I was as clear as I could be. Here is my email to them:
My order appears to have shipped, but tracking shows it’s been intransit to UPS since Sunday. UPS doesn’t have it. I paid over $18 for two day shipping. I want you to see the mess you’ve made with my order. I am showing that this order has not been shipped when I check the tracking.  Please refund my $80.01 and do it today. When I click on tracking, it shows my order has been in transit to UPS since Sunday. You have packaged it and that’s all. Please cancel this order and refund my money. It will not arrive in time. As the status it now shows, it will not arrive at all. Order# XXXXXXXXX (X’s substituted here for real order number.)  It’s not even in transit. PLEASE CANCEL
Carrier: UPS
Tracking #:___________________ (it was filled in in my email)
and refund my money. You can find the order where ever you’ve put it. UPS has not received it and I ordered it Sunday, Jan. 31. 
Here are various replies I’ve gotten as I ask for the order to be canceled since it won’t get here on time for the Superbowl party and for the money to be refunded to my card. 

“Good day! Regarding your order number XXXXXXXXX with UPS tracking number ____________, we are still waiting for the possibility for it to be shipped by February 15. Most likely, external factors beyond our control may have impacted your shipment’s prompt delivery. Rest assured, we will do everything in our power to fulfill your order.”

If you have yet to receive your purchase by that date, feel free to email us back so that we can further assist you. Have a great day!

Sincerely,
Mike S.

Here’s another reply when I ask them again to cancel the non-shipped order and refund my money:

I am sorry for not yet receiving your package from your order number XXXXXXXXX. As a shopper, I know how important it is to receive our package in a timely manner. We are looking at a possibility that your package may be delivered on or before February 15. If the package won’t arrive by then, please reply to this email so I can further assist you. I sincerely apologize for the delay in shipping your order. You may track the shipment’s progress by going to http://www.ups.com and entering your tracking number __________.

Sincerely,

Charles D.

I have been a regular Kohls Customer for years. I cannot believe the shoddy Customer Service Dept I’ve dealt with today. I will NEVER order or buy anything from them again. If you are reading this, you might want to rethink any purchases as well, if you plan to shop at Kohls. I’m predicting Kohls will be holding “Going out of Business” sales by December 2016.
(You want to know the real “ass-kicker”? I tried to add one more teeshirt to the order last Sunday since it was costing $8 just for regular shipping for that one. They said since my order was already packed and sent to the shipper I could not add anything, but they would be happy to ship the third teeshirt for the regular shipping cost of over $8. I told them to keep that shirt. And they HAD the other teeshirts there all the time. How much harder to add one more if it’s just sitting there in a box and nowhere close to the shipper?)
Here it what it shows under UPS when I put in the tracking number:

 Order Processed: In Transit to UPS

The shipment has been processed by the sender. Once the shipment is within the UPS network, an expected delivery date will be made available.

Notify me with UpdatesChange Delivery
Label Created On:
02/01/2016

I just got this from Andrea at UPS when I emailed them:

Response By Email ( Andrea A. ) ( 02/05/2016 04:10 PM ) U.S. Eastern Standard Time (US EST)
Dear Constance,

Thank you for your e-mail. I understand your concerns regarding the timely delivery of this tee-shirts for the Superbowl.

I have confirmed that UPS received electronic billing information for this tracking number from the shipper on 02/01/16, and selecting a Ground Shipping. However, our tracking system does not show that this package has been physically handed to us.

Our best recommendation is for you to contact the shipper to confirm that your package was sent as scheduled and using this tracking number. If the shipper already has provided you with a new scheduled delivery date, it may be possible that they send it using a different tracking number.

Best regards,

Andrea A.
UPS Customer Support

Writing Has a Mind of Its Own

I have tried to set a writing schedule. It just isn’t happening. I can plan to write every day, and I will, but what I write surprises me much of the time.

Yesterday I stuck to my schedule of writing on the stories/chapters in my book about my experiences as a public school teacher. I even had a brainstorm for that book while I was driving and wrote it down when I got home. I worked on three different chapters in that book yesterday. I’d planned to write for an hour.

I ended up writing thirty to forty-five minutes. I write quickly. Maybe that’s the problem? Or is it the solution?

I heard or read somewhere that Hemingway wrote 250 words a day. When he got to 250, no matter if it was mid-sentence, he stopped for the day.

I can write 250 words in five minutes. I am no Hemingway and probably my words are not as good as his were, but that’s what editing is for. I cannot write slowly or I will lose my train of thought.

Yesterday in that thirty or forty-five minutes, I wrote over a thousand words. Perhaps I should plan word count, but how would that work if I were writing a poem? I write little stories in my poems. I’ve had several published. I enjoy writing them, but there’s no way I can or would want to write a thousand word poem. Evangeline. I wonder how many words were in that poem. Let me check. Well, I cannot find the answer, but it was long. I remember reading it in school. I doubt I’ll ever write a poem that long and if I did, would anyone read it?

Anyway, I digress, which is something I do frequently. That’s why I cannot write for an hour or four hours or a thousand words. I write until what I wanted to say that day is said. Sometimes I spend my writing time writing down ideas and making outlines. I doubt I will finish all my ideas before I die. There are so many. That’s another challenge. When I do sit down to write, which project should I work on? That problem seems to solve itself daily for my mind gets geared toward one idea or thought and my fingers are off and running with the words as I try to get them down before they leave me.

Sometimes I ask myself if to be organized as a writer would kill my muse? I am organized to a degree. I just can’t fit things into an exact box all the time.

Sometimes I play with words using words I already know. As a child I was required in school to memorize poems. I loved poetry and it was an assignment I enjoyed. Now I frequently hear those words when I’m quiet. Once in awhile I’ll change up the words and leave the rhyme and rhythm scheme and bastardize a loved poem. One day while walking my dog, I did that with Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. Instead of “Whose woods these are” which begins his poem, I imagined my dog thinking “Whose poop this is, I think I know” as she sniffed something some one else failed to clean up. (I pick up her droppings, which annoys her, but pleases the neigbors . . . ) but she was sniffing one day and that poem was running through my mind at the same time and the two thoughts collided. Some said they didn’t like the poem that resulted in; others said they did.

So if it’s a poem, word count won’t work. I guess the thing to do is what I’ve done for years. Write until I have nothing else to say. Like now.