Monday, June 19, 2017

Trials and Tribulations

It all started at the beginning of Summer, when I decided to log into my Tarleton account and find out if my fin aide application had been accepted. Before that point, I just assumed that I would be able to continue to get financial aide until I graduated. When I went to the status page, I saw a message that said I was near or at my limit for financial aide. This message got me started worrying about if I could afford to pay out of pocket for this next semester.

I have been planning a trip to see my sister this Christmas and I have saved a considerable sum towards that end. I deduced that the only way I could possibly pay out of pocket for this semester's tuition would be if I canceled the trip. Then I started thinking if I canceled, when would be another time I could take the girls to see her. She lives in North Carolina, so the trip is a pricy and time consuming one. It's not like I could hop over and see her in a day and then hop back. Going all the way there means at least a week off work, and it has to be a week I have the girls. So I finally came to the conclusion that if I didn't go this year I probably wasn't going. That is why I wanted to avoid using that money at all costs. The other option was to put off my classes from this semester until next semester and use my tax refund to pay for it. That way, I would not have to use the money I had set aside for my trip. I even briefly considered setting up a go-fund me account to pay for what I could not pay out of pocket.

This is something that has been plaguing me all summer, until now. So I happened to log into my university e-mail account for the first time in forever last night. I don't remember why I decided to do it, but I did. When I saw the e-mail saying my financial aid application was approved, I was scratching my head. The little warning that had said I was near or at my limit was gone when I logged into the site. It had been replaced with the amount of financial aide I would be receiving. I know that this probably put me at my limit, but I am so glad that I don't have to worry about choosing between school and my long awaited Christmas with my sister.

In other news, my parents have found a place. I was really worried about them too, but I couldn't afford to help. They figured out a way to get by without my assistance, which probably would have happened sooner if I had been more firm instead of helping out when they asked. Although they will probably still ask for my help in the future, I'm not really worried about them starving to death or dying from exposure to the elements like I was before.

My writing has kind of stagnated. the magazines I ordered for this month will not be here until next month and I should go to a newsstand to find them, but the closest one would probably be at least an hour's drive away. Of course they have some magazines at the grocery store, not really anything that's on my list though. I have been reading a lot in my article writing book though. I'm learning some valuable tricks of the trade which will help me when I finally do start writing.

I did end up sending one poem off to a magazine last month and entered one contest. Still haven't gotten anywhere with my non-fiction writing and that's what I'm hoping will be my bread and butter when I step into it as a serious career. At least I don't have to worry about how I'll pay for college this semester.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Co-parenting is difficult in the best of times. It is difficult to deal with the other parent and field questions from the kids on why you cannot get back together. It is difficult to adjust to a schedule where the kids are with one parent some of the time and with the other parent the rest of the time. It's hard to plan holidays and vacations. For me, it is especially difficult because of the terms of my divorce agreement. I agreed to nights and weekends during the summer because my schedule is more flexible than his. While he has to be at work during the day from 8 to 5 every week day and gets the weekends off, I can work nights and weekends. So we came up with something that saved us the cost of daycare (expensive for three kids) and I work nights while he watches them and I watch them while he is working during the day. This compromise sort of works out, except for the fact that if I do not work weekends (because of the time we close) I would not have very many hours. Here's how it works:

We close between 9:30 and 10:00 every night but sometimes as early as 9:15. He gets off work at 5, so after dropping off the kids, I can be to work to start my shift by 5:15 at the earliest. Now supposing it's a really slow night and we close at 9:15, that gives me 4 hours. That's half of a regular 8 hour day. So even though we're open a little later on Fri, (think between 10:15 and 11:00) the most I could get out of working those five nights is 23 and a quarter hours. That isn't much. So I make up the lost hours by working 8 hour shifts on both of the days of the weekend. I go in at 2 on Saturday, then open Sunday morning and work until 2. This gives me between 15.5 and 16.5 hours depending on what time we close Saturday. So add that to the 23 and I've got about 36-38 hours from working all seven days. Thing about it is, having the girls during the day and working at night is exhausting, especially when I don't get a single day off. Also my food bills are higher during the summer when I have to feed the girls all day while they're here seven days a week.

Still, this is better than working that many hours to pay half of it to daycare.

This year, I suggested that our oldest girl (13) might be old enough to watch her sisters for one hour until he got off work, so I could go in at 4 instead and get at least one day off a week. Then he comes back with expecting me to take every other weekend off work (32 hours a month, minimum) like it's no big deal. I can't go in at 5:15 during the week and take every other weekend a month off. Not unless I got a second job working the graveyard at some 24 hour place to make up for the loss of income. The reason he wants me to take every other weekend a month off? So he can do stuff on the weekend that he can't do when he has the girls. Like, every weekend I have without the girls is spent at work. I had one free day (no work, no school, no girls) in the last six months.

Next year, when oldest is 14, I can have her babysit for long stretches of time since she'll be legally old enough to work. Also middle child will turn 12 that year so hopefully they'll all be a little more responsible. I guess I just have to put up with one more year of this.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Well I got my first rejection letter. That manuscript I submitted to The Paris Review in January I think. They used the self-addressed stamped envelope I sent but did not send back my manuscript. I wish they would have sent the manuscript back as well because I'm unsure which one I submitted to them. A lady I work with said they probably intend to publish it without giving me credit, but that would be a pretty stupid thing to do. Even if I do not remember which one I submitted, I know my own work when I see it. Maybe they lost the manuscript.

Anyway, at least I know they're not going to publish it. Next time I submit something, I'm going to keep a copy of it in a file with the name of the magazine I submitted it to, and the date. This will help me keep track of where I have sent everything, especially if they're not going to be sending back my manuscripts.

I broke my resolution last month and did not submit anything (not even a query) for the month of April. I did have a lot of school work to do that month, though. I think, now that school is over for the semester, I will try to write two articles a month instead of one. I will spend the first week researching, including reading the magazine I plan on submitting to. Then I will spend the second week writing and submit it by the end of the week.

If I can keep this resolution, I can have six manuscripts submitted before the summer is over. Now that I am published, I intend to start a portfolio. Maybe I will start submitting works to lesser known and low-pay magazines to get the ball rolling. I have already ordered three magazines to begin my research for this month.

I wish contests sent you rejection letters as well. I should know about that Austin Chronical contest before the end of this next week, they're supposed to notify finalists by the 15th, so if I'm even in the running I'll be getting something soon. If I don't, I can just assume it wasn't as good as the other stories and mark that manuscript rejected.

Someone asked me at work if being rejected for publication hurt worse than being rejected by a romantic interest. I'd have to say, it does and it doesn't. I think there's almost the expectation of rejection when you send your work to be published. It's kind of like if you were trying to pick up someone at a bar and they rejected you. It hurts less in that aspect because it's not as much of a surprise. Since writing is my passion and I want to be the very best I can be at it, it is very discouraging to get a rejection letter which basically says I am not good enough (in the eyes of the editor). I know every author has his or her share of rejection, even the ones who made a successful career out of it. Knowing this numbs the pain a little, so that makes it hurt less. Just like telling oneself that the person who rejected one is just not the right person and that someone better will come along. All I can do is keep trying and try harder to do better, so that's what I'll do.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

First Time

I just wanted to update all of you on my writing career, and how it is or isn't progressing. I submitted one of my poems to my school's annual publication which chooses various creative student works and publishes them together in a small periodical titled Anthology. I recently heard back that they will be publishing my poem. Although this is not as much of a step as if I got an acceptance letter from an off campus source, publication can only be good news. I finally have something to add to my portfolio. So far, I haven't heard back from any of the other magazines to which I have submitted queries or stories.

Another good thing that happened recently in my writing career is that I sold another content based article on the website constant-content where I have submitted a few (not many) articles which have already sold making me a little bit of money. I have no idea who might be buying them, if I sell full rights I do not even know if they keep my name on it. Hopefully they do, but since I do not know where to find them, I cannot possibly use them for my portfolio as proof of publication. I could only really show the receipt I received for the sale of the article.

Constant-content does charge a fee which is a percentage of the total sale amount. I also have to sell them relatively cheap to ensure purchase. I could probably write a dozen or so content related articles a month and just submit them there, but I'm hoping to get published in a much more recognizable way. My career has to start somewhere and if it starts with publication of a small poem in a college run periodical, so be it. Hopefully there will be people who read it and decide they like my work and actively seek me out. If not, I can still use it to prove I have been published.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


I saw a meme. It said: "It takes 2.5 seconds to text 'hi.' There are 24 hours in the day. If I'm not worth 2.5 seconds of your time, then you are not worth a position in my life." It got me to thinking.

While it may be true that it takes only 2.5 seconds to text hi, it almost never goes unanswered. You get a text back. And maybe it's not just 'hi,' there's a little bit more added to it. "Hi, how are you?" So you think, it took them about 10 seconds to text that, right? It would be rude not to respond. It takes another 10 seconds for you to respond. "Fine, and you?" Another response. Of course, you could have just answered fine, and cut them off, but that would be rude. So they answer, "Can't complain. What are you doing?" Before you know it, you are texting a regular conversation. Now if you're someplace you're not supposed to have your phone, like work. This is probably happening over a prolonged period, not in sequence. The point is, it's never just as simple as texting 'hi,' and leaving it at that.

Perhaps that person isn't being rude by not responding, or just texting "hi." There are places where people can't have their phones. Some places have horrible reception. People commute, and it's not a good idea to text and drive. There are all sorts of little reasons that time slips away without finding the time to say hi to your friends every day. That's why true friends understand this and give you space. Imagine if all the people in your life demanded you text them hi each and every day. It only takes 2.5 seconds, right? How many people could there be? If you have family, add each of your family members. If you have a job, you need to add your co-workers on there too. If you have a job with customer relations, you have even more people to add, but just go ahead and add any work contacts as well. All this and you haven't even gotten to your friends yet.

The point of all this is: that meme may sound like it's not asking much. After all, how much trouble is it to smile, or say hi, or wave? But when you demand people act a certain way to suit you, then call them unworthy if they don't do what you ask, you're the one being the jerk.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Odds and Ends

This month I sent my first query letter. I'll admit this isn't quite the same thing as sending off a finished piece ready for publication. However, most magazines do not publish unsolicited material which means a query letter is necessary. I am also considering entering a writing contest (although I don't usually have much luck with those).

I am currently enrolled in two writing intensive courses which also keeps my writing mind at work. I thought about making a plan to finish my novel, or at least put a dent in it. I could draw up a week by week schedule of everything I'll need to do and what I should be doing each week. One week, for instance, I could work on dialog. I have so many ideas for short stories and novellas and even a few graphic novel ideas. I'll keep developing those as well.

I have thought about sending a query in to Reader's Digest. They publish lots of real-life stories as well as some humorous anecdotes. Since I used to read the magazine a lot, I have a good feel for the things they'll publish. I feel confident in sending my next article query to them. Meanwhile I should be devouring other magazines I might query. The goal is one article or query a month until I get a positive answer. After that, of course I'll have to spend some amount of time on researching and writing the article itself. I already have ideas of what to write about for both Texas Highways and Reader's Digest.

I found out that it will be a couple of months before I learn anything about the school publication anthology where I submitted a poem for consideration. If they decide to publish it (even if I don't get the $100 prize), it will be a big step. I will then be able to list that publication in my portfolio.

On the non-writing side of things, [Warning: impending rant] the kids all got sick recently and I decided (since I missed the Friday afternoon clinic window) to take them down to the ER so they could get started on antibiotics before Monday came and they ended up getting sent home from school with Strep or something. So I took them all down there, we're all about finished and the doctor arrogantly says: "We're happy to see them in the clinic for this kind of stuff." Like I didn't know I could bring my kids to the clinic, if I had gotten there when they were open. I guess he didn't know (or care) that Monday we had oldest daughter's hem/oc appointment, and that Tuesday I was so beat from that, that I fell out almost as soon as I got home. Then Wed, Thurs and Fri I worked long hours in order to miss as little work as possible. So that when I finally got home Fri afternoon I was so beat I just fell asleep again. Sure youngest was already coughing on Monday when had the hem/oc appointment, but the others didn't start until Wed (which was their dad's time BTW). So thank you, pious doctor, you succeeded in making me feel terrible for wanting to get my kids on antibiotics before school started up. [rant over]

Daughter's hem/oc appointment went well, although she's being referred to an endocrinologist because they're worried she's not growing or developing at the rate she should be. The doc said everything else looks A-Okay though. Was able to get along with ex throughout the day. Unfortunately, this gave youngest the wrong idea. She got it into her sweet but decidedly thick scull that our ability to get along for one day proved we should get back together. It's difficult to explain such things to a six-year old, especially without vilifying anyone or defending your own decisions. She wasn't old enough to remember the problems we had when we were together, so she doesn't understand why us reconciling is a bad idea.

Had a little bout of insomnia in the weeks leading up to my daughter's hem-oc appointment. I suppose some of that can be attributed to the stress of worrying there would be a problem. Although, I'm not going to lie, some of it was also envy. You see, a certain co-worker just went on his second trip to Japan and of course all I could think about while he was gone was all the cool stuff he was getting to do and see. I know that one day I'll be able to go, but I still feel envious of others for getting to do it now. It doesn't help that every semester there's some prof who's pitching a study abroad (sometimes more than one). Last semester I had someone come pitch a study abroad in Cartagena in my Spanish class and then another prof was pitching a study abroad in the Galapagos Islands, while yet another was pitching another study abroad (I don't remember where). There was a study abroad in Japan my first year and I wanted to go terribly. Of course, I knew I couldn't. Besides the fact that I haven't got this whole jumble of how I'm going to get a passport taken care of, I also have three young-uns to worry about. Even if I could arrange a month's worth of child-care and even if I could manage to save up for that amount of time and manage to keep my job after leaving for that long, it just isn't feasible for a mother of three to leave for a month. I wouldn't want to go that long without my kiddos. If, one day, my ex ends up moving and we have to do that so we have to split school time vs. summer and holiday time, then we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. However, until then, I don't think I'd like to leave for such a long time and miss out on so much of their childhood. Although, I will be traveling after they're grown, probably for months at a time.

Guess I'll leave it there.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017


Just a quick note to all those who wonder if I did in fact break the new years resolution I made in the last blog post. I am happy to say the resolution remains intact, even if I did submit something I had already written. I didn't write every day as I'd hoped, and even though I read at least one magazine off my list of magazines to try submitting to, I haven't got around to typing up a query. I have some ideas on travel articles I could write, possibly even ones that focus on the town in which I live. I also have access to some issues of some of the magazines on my list at my university library (found that out today) so I intend to make good use of that source when I can.

Courses (with the exception of Spanish) have been easier than I expected (so far). I do think they will probably get harder. Two of my courses are considered "writing intensive" so I will have to pay attention to my writing in both of those as my final grade for the course depends greatly upon my ability in that area.

I'm batting around ideas for my project proposal which is my final assignment in Tech Writing class. So far, I think I've decided that I'll propose that the University Library carry more magazines that cater to the LGBT community and their unique concerns and ideas, since they carry many other popular magazines for other groups. I will have to research to see exactly how many students would be effected by these changes. Not quite sure where to go for that, possibly find studies done on the percentage of high school seniors in central Texas that identify as LGBT or (if the info is available) I could also research the current number of students enrolled who identify in that group.

At the same time, I've got to be thinking about Bad Girls in popular culture and or literature and a way that I could explore that topic for my final paper in that class. Stats class has been easiest so far, just a few key terms to memorize and some learning how to operate SPSS which (so far) is very simple. I expect that the class will get more difficult as time wears on, but I'm not sure about that. The SI said that learning the program was the most difficult part of the class for her.

I'm learning a few things about MS Word that I didn't previously know. Lots of neat formatting tricks that I'm sure will be useful later in life. Hopefully I will not break my resolution and pump out something by this month's end (although my work load for school is bound to increase). I'm hoping that once I get into more of a routine that I can whittle out a space for writing and writing-based research. Well, I'm off to watch something until I decide to turn in. Catch y'all next month.