Chill Out

On this lovely Saturday afternoon, I sent Steve off by his lonesome to watch Ian bang on his bass drum at the football game. I need to put in a couple of hours on a big article that I’ve been working on since the end of August. I’m about ten hours of work away from submitting the piece to the editor. Maybe twenty hours. Who the hell knows?

And then I’m going to chill out for a couple of weeks. I’m going to exercise every morning and sell some books on the Internet for the fun. (Somebody just bought $75 for an old set of encyclopedias that were heading for the dumpster. Who knew?)

I need the time to regroup and reassess plans. I’ve been freelancing education articles, on and off, for seven years now. A seven-year anniversary seems like a good time to look at my ROI. I’ve paid a lot of dues (writing for free). Is all that effort paying off?

I basically like what I do and would be content to keep doing it forever, but at some point, one should question that plan when one could make more money working part time shelving books at Barnes and Noble.

This current article was paying well enough, until I kept digging and realized that I had a bigger article than I anticipated. I’ve put in so many hours into it, that at this point, I’m working for free. I suppose it’s my own fault. I’ve gone way beyond the original plan for the article. But I just couldn’t stop myself.

Between stressing myself out over this article and doing too much at home, my insomnia flared up again. It’s really hard to function on three hours of sleep.

So, chilling out is happening. We’re not over scheduling our weekends with socializing. I’m not signing on to write anything except for essays or editorials for a little while. I’m reading long blog posts from Martha Stewart; I find her very soothing.

And inspired by Martha, we’re getting caught up with home chores. We have some driveway work happening this weekend. Steve’s laying down a PVC pipe underneath the driveway with tubes that will operate a future sprinkler system. We have a mason repairing the front stairs. And then the driveway guys will come back next week and pore out the asphalt.

Enjoy the weekend, folks!

24 thoughts on “Chill Out

  1. There were lots of old books to be sold/given out when we cleaned out my parents’ place. Nobody would take the Rudyard Kipling collection because it had swastikas on the binding.


      1. They may have been worth something, but they were not first edition. If they were like most of the old books in my family, they were the book club editions or something like that. They also weren’t in very good condition.


    1. I bought a copy of Rewards and Fairies in that edition when I was in college and loved it. I sort of figured the title and the elephant on the cover were enough to make the swastikas not look Nazi.


  2. MH said, “Nobody would take the Rudyard Kipling collection because it had swastikas on the binding.”

    I think I know that collection! The basement lounge in my freshman college dorm had it, for some reason.

    I would have taken it.


  3. Why did they have swastikas? Were they Indian swastikas (which traditionally point in the opposite direction from the Nazi version)? Or some other reason?


  4. Yes, they were Indian and pointing in the opposite direction. The books were pre-WW2. I wouldn’t have worried about it if I had wanted the books to read.


    1. The “Indian swastika” can point in either direction. It is sometimes used merely as a decorative symbol, sometimes symbolically. Kipling’s, which apparently from 1911 editions of his books, probably is Indian.


  5. My dad is clearing out his books before he moves. I’m hoping he still has a set of books called “Masterplots” which boiled down the plots of hundreds of classics to just a few paragraphs—no critique, no analysis—just the plot. I’d like to look through them again.

    I was in grade school when I read them, and it’s where I came to the conclusion that there really are only a very small number of basic plots. Just different names for the characters.


  6. I have a 1892 Encyclopedia Britannica. I bought it for $50 from a library book sale (with money borrowed fro my sister). I find it cool enough to keep and like flipping through entries occasionally. Thrilling that it is 137 years old and still completely usable. I wonder if it’s the oldest man-made thing in my house? Probably, though we do have some purported heirloom candlesticks from the old countries (and, vaguely possible that I have a few older books, like a McGuffey reader given to me by a research advisor).


    1. I now have the family Bible from the first branch of the family in America. Not sure how old it is, but probably the oldest thing in the house.


    2. I have an 1854 history of Stockbridge, Mass., where some of my ancestors lived, with my fourth great-grandmother’s name on the flyleaf. It is probably the oldest thing we own, and certainly the thing with the longest family ownership. Possibly we have an older book somewhere; I’ll have to check.


      1. This is a fun thread. I have some family silver that I believe my grandparents got when they were married in the early 30s. Just a few pieces as souvenirs, since we sold most of it. I also have some letters they wrote to each other before and during their marriage. And there’s a drop-leaf table that I found on the sidewalk and partially refinished that is probably from the 40s or so, though I don’t know furniture. So maybe the house itself, built around 1920, is the oldest thing.


  7. My perception, from having read this blog over so many years, is that you have always invested more than you *have* to in all of your endeavors (including teaching, freelance journalism, and, I suspect, selling books :-). I think there are many endeavors that become labors of love, especially for someone who can’t, emotionally, put in the required work for which one is receiving the reasonable compensation, and move on. The solution seems to be to be very generously compensated, which would be good work, if one could find it. Though, I guess the other solution is to be a full time employee paid at a solid wage.


  8. Yes, overworking is a chronic problem for me. I can’t do a shitty job on anything. So, people take advantage of me. A lot.

    Yes, I’m currently looking at job ads for some boring, but adequately compensated jobs.


    1. My biggest issue is Ian. I still manage too much of his after-school activities. I can outsource the driving, but I have to be paid well enough to pay the babysitter. They make $15 to $20 an hour around here.


      1. The other issue is that I’m addicted to writing. I get the biggest adrenaline kick when an article does well, and I see a hundred copy-cat articles that follow. I like having access to really smart people who spend hours talking me about topics that I find fascinating. I got in over my head on this recent article, but most of the time, it’s all good.


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