Archive for May, 2012

  • The Power of Suggestion

    Date: 2012.05.30 | Category: Life, Me, Work | Response: 18

    I started working as an editor nearly five years ago at the age of 23. Prior to that I had put in several years in the print industry doing everything from layout to copy editing to writing, both while in college and during the couple years after graduation. And while I felt, despite my age, that they had made the right choice in hiring me as the publication’s editor, I was also sort of intimidated by my new job and all that it entailed.

    I wasn’t the publisher, but for the most part I was in charge of making decisions about what to print, how it was presented and making sure we had enough content to fill our pages.

    In the beginning, I let those who work around me sort of take charge, watching to see what they wrote, working reactively to what I got.

    After I had a fill for what was going on, I started slowly turning the table, assigning stories, planning editorial calendars, actively looking for ways to improve the publication. At first there was skepticism. After all, my predecessor was much older than me, as are almost all editors in my field. Additionally, things had been the same for a very long time. But I slowly proved my worth and when we got a new Big Man in Charge, I doubled the size of our publication and moved it to full color.

    And with time and experience I gained confidence. One of the hardest things for me to do at first was to make suggestions to writers about ways to improve their stories. But I find now that most of my writers want feedback and suggestions. And guess what, when I give them suggestions they often come back with far superior end products. It amazes me. I know it’s their writing and talent, but I’m glad that suggestions I make actually help them.

    It’s weird how much things change. I was so timid at first, but now I find myself leading meetings, presenting ideas and getting excited about new projects. This year I’m the chair of a statewide communications committee full of amazing editors who are many years my senior.

    Another publication in the southern area of the state has completely altered their own publication and it has some uncanny similarities to our own. As the Big Man in Charge says, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

    I’m not saying this to brag on myself, but just to take a step back and realize how much can change with experience, confidence and love of a job. While people (including myself) were skeptical at first, they now seek out my opinion and suggestions, which still bowls me over, but makes me incredibly happy. It’s like Neil said, if you want to be that person, pretend you are that person until you are that person.

    We’re continuing to start new projects, improve our publication and evolve to meet readers needs and, even though I’ll never be Anna Wintour, I am so happy to have a job that I truly enjoy.

  • Louisiana Summer

    Date: 2012.05.25 | Category: Baby, Dogs, Family, Food, Home, Life, Pets, Sarah | Response: 4

    I know summer doesn’t technically begin until June 21, but there’s a good chance that by then we’ll be under a heat advisory and not allowed to spend much time outside. So we enjoy summer here when we can.

    Photos: Sarah loves momma’s beach chair • Sarah and J wave their hands in the sprinklers • Counter Culture Humphrey Yogurt with strawberries, peaches and blackberries • Dogs enjoying outside time with Sarah • Crawfish at Mudbug Madness • Sarah’s first pigtails • J is utterly confused by Sarah’s girlish silliness.

    I hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and get a jump start on summery things!

  • Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

    Date: 2012.05.23 | Category: Friends, Life, OMG YAY! | Response: 11

    Sometimes, when I’m trucking along in my day-to-day life, it seems impossible to accomplish big things, and a lot of the time, even accomplishing medium things seems tough. I’ve been staring at the same ugly walls and entryway in my house for over two years now. I don’t know why painting them seems so hard. But I felt the same way about exercising after having Sarah, and that just took a swift kick in the pants from Cassie to get me going again.

    Speaking of, some of my friends have been doing BIG things, amazing things, and I’m so proud of them. So here’s a quick post to congratulate them on being amazing.

    Cassie ran the Pittsburgh marathon, managed to inspire people to donate $500 to help children and did it on a hip that was never supposed to run again. Congrats Cassie. I am continually inspired by your drive and insistence on pushing yourself (and me).

    Becki, who I practically grew up with and have traveled extensively with, just completed her defense and will soon be awarded her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Texas A&M! She worked so hard to get her degree, published in science journals and tended to sorghum plants nearly every day for almost six years. Even better, she’s coming back to Shreveport to teach at the college we both graduated from. Not only am I super proud of her, but I am selfishly happy that she’s coming back here to live, at least for a year.

    Susan, despite being 8 months pregnant and working crazy hours as an E.R. doctor at a state hospital where people come in with gunshot wounds and rely on her to save their lives, has also been appointed Chief Resident and has totally taken it in stride. So proud of her and amazed at her ability to not get overwhelmed.

    Dana, after surviving one of the craziest pregnancies I’ve ever heard of, gave birth to an amazingly adorable little boy last month. There were a few difficulties after he was born, but she too is making it work. I know how hard pregnancy and new motherhood are without any other obstacles thrown in, so I’m proud of her for being so strong and an amazing new mom.

    While these four and doing BIG things, I have so many friends who continue to inspire me every day by accomplishing lots of little, medium and big things.

    Congrats to all of you, you deserve it!

  • Literary Crush

    Date: 2012.05.21 | Category: Books, Life, Love, Me | Response: 16

    As Kelly and I have often spoke of, we have severe literary crushes on Neil Gaiman.

    My fascination with Neil’s books started out with Stardust. Not my favorite, but it was good. Good enough that I wanted to read more of his work. I picked up Coraline, and fell in love with the absolute creepiness of it. I then, at Kelly’s recommendation, picked up American Gods. That book blew me away. It was so inventive and thought provoking and bizarre. My literary crush on Neil had firmly taken root.

    And then I heard one of his audiobooks – his own reading of his Newberry Award winning The Graveyard Book. I was floored that a writer could perform his work as well as the professional actors who read for the likes of Audible.com. And when I heard him read Neverwhere, I was reassured that Neil simply has a gift for storytelling in all forms.

    I also read his blog where he tells stories of everyday life. He manages to bee keep at his home in America and roam through the snow with his two white German Shepherds, and then go off  globe trotting with his rock star wife Amanda Palmer and rub elbows with literary greats.

    He also has a special love for New Orleans and a relationship with The Green Goddess restaurant there. He has a “password” for the restaurant, so when you go and tell your server the password you get a little something free in honor of Neil. After we had done that very thing a few years ago, I tweeted Neil to tell him how great it was and he replied back to me. I died a little.

    I think the reason I’ve developed such a fascination with him is because he represents everything I would be in dream world. He’s a confident, imaginative, successful writer who is passionate about the arts in all forms.

    Neil posted a video of the commencement speech he gave at University of the Arts in Philadelphia and, after listening to it, I was in love with him even more. I love that he started work as a journalist and evolved into a fiction writer, and I love that he talks about where he was and how to get to where you want to be and the importance of making mistakes.

    It’s a 20 minute speech, but worth listening to. Here are a few of my favorite parts:

    “If you don’t know it’s impossible, it’s easier to do. And because nobody’s done it before, they haven’t made up rules to stop anyone from doing that particular thing again.”

    “If you have an idea of what you want to make, what you were put here to do, then just go and do that.”

    “The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakeable conviction that  you’re getting away with something and at any moment now they will discover you.”

    “Someone asked me recently how to do something she thought was going to be difficult… and I suggested she pretend that she was someone who could do it.”

    A year after having a baby and after a little over a month of weaning, I feel like my creative side is really getting back to where it used to be. It was never gone, but hibernating for a while. I make the time to read. I think more creatively, and I’m finally motivated to do some personal creative writing again. I don’t know where that will take me, if anywhere, but I’m thankful it’s back.

    I’m finally getting past being scared of writing on an idea, and just writing.

    Thanks for the inspiration Neil.

  • Animals in Revolt

    Date: 2012.05.16 | Category: Family, Health, Kitties, Pets, Sam Cat | Response: 13

    Remember when Leela tried to up and die on me?

    Well now Sam Cat decided that he needs his moment in the spotlight and started peeing blood. When I saw the litter box, I thought that couldn’t be good, but didn’t freak because surely UTI right?

    So we took him to the vet where they ran us up another nice big bill (I could really use that buy three visits get one free card now).

    Turns out is exceedingly rare for a male cat to get a UTI, because as my vet so visually described it to me, their pee hole is the size of the tip of a ballpoint pin. (I’m not joking, he really broke out the pen to show me just how small we’re talking about here).

    Instead, he says, male cats tend to get blood in their urine when they’re stressed.

    Now, I’ve seen stressed cats.

    When we first moved into our new house, Angie Cat took up residence underneath the comforter at the foot of our bed and wouldn’t even leave to eat for nearly three months. She lost hair and dropped a ton of weight. That was a stressed cat.

    Sam though? That cat struts around our house like he’s the king of the world and we are all his devoted minions. He has window ledges he spends the vast majority of his time in all day. He has two dedicated litter boxes and swipes at the dogs when they are stupid enough to challenge him (though mostly they just run from him). He does not, in any way, appear stressed.

    The vet says a new baby could bring on that kind of stress. Ok, but Sarah isn’t really new, though she is new to walking. Maybe her screeching meows and full body runs at him are a bit stressful, though he doesn’t hesitate to retreat to his window ledge if she’s being unruly.

    At any rate, our vet suggested we put him on Prozac. PROZAC. For those keeping count, that would mean Bonnie is on her bladder control meds, Leela is on her monthly steroid shot and Sam would be on Prozac.

    I nixed that idea. Especially since the vet said that combined with a number of other things may reduce the chances of this happening again by 50%, maybe.

    Of course all this could mean he needs more water and some antibiotics. So we went that route and bought a fancy cat water bowl to induce him to drink more.

    I think I need a constantly running fountain for ME to drink from, in particular one that spouts wine would be lovely.

    Of course, my vet said, this could happen to Sam again one day, clog up his pee hole and kill him in less than two days. So there’s always that bit of joy to consider.

    Honestly, we’re going to give this water bowl and antibiotic business a try, make sure he goes out at least once a day and see what happens. If this continues, we may have to find him a less stressful environment to live in, because I love that cat and no way I’m going to let him die a painful death if I can help it. Let’s hope sparkly magical water bowl does the trick.

  • Beach: The Finale

    Date: 2012.05.14 | Category: Baby, Family, Friends, Life, Sarah, Travel | Response: 12

    The remaining three days at the beach were a dream. The weather was perfect, the food was great and we met up with some old friends we hadn’t seen in 12 years. I really could live down there for a while. Gorgeous.

    Here’s the rest of my favorite photos from out trip:

    Relaxing in mama’s chair
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    Loving the waves
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    Loving on his mama
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    Digging
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    Cool dude
    IMG_3616

    Kisses
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    Play time
    IMG_3721

    The Fam
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    Bushwhackers with mom at Harry T’s
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    Old Friends
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    Can we please go back now?

  • Beach Part 2: The Wedding

    Date: 2012.05.11 | Category: Family, Friends, Love, Photography, Style, Travel | Response: 12

    The main reason we ventured down to Ft. Walton Beach was for my sister’s best friend Kari’s wedding. Shannon was the Matron of Honor, my nephew was the ring barer and I was the photographer.

    Despite the morning rain, the weather for the wedding was perfect.

    Only one misstep happened when my nephew Jacob tried to swallow the wedding ring, leading the officiant to say, “Holy Mother of God, where’s the ring?!” while the groom frantically asked if he had swallowed it. Turned out the little guy had spit the ring right back out and it had landed in his front pocket. No harm done, just lots of laughs!

    Here are a few photos I took from the wedding.

    My nephew cutting up during the ceremony. Good thing my sister could handle him.

    With this ring…

    Bridesmaids with the bride and ring barer.

    Love birds.

    Sunset.

    Dip and kiss.

    Thumbprints = the most awesome guest book ever.

    Matron of honor speech.

    Sparkly.

    This was one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve ever been to and I was so honored to photograph it.

    Congrats Kari and Chris!

  • Beach Part 1

    Date: 2012.05.10 | Category: Baby, Family, Food, Friends, Life, Me, OMG YAY!, Sarah, Travel | Response: 18

    Despite contracting a version of strep throat that took over my face, ears and whole body, I drugged myself up and seated myself inside the crowded Pathfinder with my mom, sister, daughter and nephew for the nearly 10 hour drive to Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. The drive was surprisingly not that bad, thanks in large part to the dvd players my sister’s friend loaned us (though I can now sing every lyric of every Veggie Tales Silly Song ever made). Our only real hiccup was the crazy storm that waylaid us in Mobile, complete with flash flooding and a near nervous breakdown on my part.

    This was my view in the car.

    But, we made it! And then I crashed, overcome by flash flooding anxiety, the infection taking over my body and “the drank” cough syrup. Thank goodness my sister volunteered to grocery shop and whip up some spaghetti.

    I spent most of my full day there sleeping. I would have felt really guilty about making my mom miss the beach to watch Sarah, but it was raining. The rain broke that evening and we felt good enough to wander down to the beach. It was overcast and beautiful.

    Turns out Sarah and Jacob had a healthy fear of sand, so I just plopped Sarah in my lap and enjoyed the beach. She didn’t mind one bit.

    And I totally won the “hat must stay on your fair head” battle.

    How beautiful is that sand and water…. and baby?

    The beach did me so much good that I even managed to drag myself to a restaurant for Kari’s rehearsal dinner. I mean, it was at McGuire’s Irish Pub after all, totally worth it.

    My sister and my nephew got all dressed up.

    And so did we!

    Jacob especially enjoyed the dinner and had no problem eating lemons and chugging water straight from the pitcher. I know his daddy would be proud.

    And that was only the first two days! Get ready for a lot more photos… especially of babies on the beach.

  • And Then I Almost Died

    Date: 2012.05.02 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Mark, Sarah, Travel | Response: 11

    I had big plans this past weekend and I just knew it would provide great blog fodder. We were going to south Louisiana for an Italian wedding then having a New Orleans style brunch with some of my family that live down there. I was so looking forward to it and had been for months.

    The night before we left was weird. I was up all night, first with the chills, then with night sweats and I honestly thought that weaning Sarah was leading to some insane hormonal crisis. This should have been a warning sign.

    As we drove down the interstate I started feeling worse. My stomach was hurting and I just didn’t feel right. When we finally made it to the hotel, I crashed, which meant we were late getting ready for the wedding.

    We arrived at the wedding and sat down and then I really started feeling bad. I got weak and shaky.

    For whatever reason, the guy marrying them was on a proselytization kick and spent over an hour of the ceremony literally Bible beating, telling us about his adulterous affairs, his drug and porn habits and how Jesus saved him, which, fine dude, but so inappropriate for someone else’s wedding. He then launched into a spill on (to a room full of Italians and south Louisianians) how the catechism was useless and his Catholic Church never gave him scripture. I thought there was going to be a lynching.

    On top of the tirade, Sarah was a busy body and she would periodically giggle. Every time she giggled, crazy preacher would stop talking and stare us down. She also kept trying to crawl into my lap. Normally that would be fine, but I was feeling bad.

    An hour into the tirade Mark looked at me and asked if we needed to go. I told him we did. We made a not-so-stealthy exit and Mark drove me back to the hotel, where I discovered I had a 102.2 fever. Geez. To top it off, I felt sick to my stomach and my throat was starting to hurt.

    I felt bad for missing out on the wedding and keeping Mark from it as well (though Sarah, who stayed with the rest of Mark’s family, was apparently had a blast).

    I stayed in bed for as long as I could until we had to leave. My in laws were awesome and watched Sarah for me the rest of the weekend since I was completely incapable. By the time I got home, it felt like there were razor blades in my throat.

    It’s quite fitting that the only picture I managed to take the whole weekend was of my father in law loving on Sarah.

    I started to get anxious because, you see, I’m supposed to leave for the beach tomorrow and photograph a wedding there Friday. This morning, I called my family medicine doctor and dragged my sick butt in.

    Are you ready for this?

    I had strep throat, a sinus infection and an ear infection. No wonder I felt so terrible.

    I’ve been loaded up with tons of medicine (including something with the street name “the drank,” which sort of makes me nervous). They gave me a shot too and for the first time in five days I’m up at my computer.

    Do I still feel like crap? Well, honestly, yes. But, at least there are no longer razor blades in my throat and I can drink some of that sweet “drank” tonight and get a good night’s sleep.

    Now, let us all pray that Sarah stays healthy for our trip and that I survive the long drive tomorrow.