Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

Gearing Up for a New Semester

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The magazine-writing course is now mounted in Canvas and ready to go live. All that remains is to figure out a couple of minor details and then, two weeks or so from now, click “Publish.”

And it only took a couple of evenings in front of the television to get it done!

I’ve pretty much got that online course down to a science, so that it requires only a bit of tweaking to update it each semester. Links die; new sites come to one’s attention; the occasional new pedagogical scheme crosses one’s mind. It helps a  lot, though, that the course is only eight weeks long. From the student’s point of view, it’s probably pretty intense, especially during the first two or three weeks when they need to come up to speed. But from my point of view, it’s sooo much easier to mount than an online course, and so much less work and hassle than a full 16-week course.

What a relief it is not to be teaching classroom sections! I don’t think even I realized how exhausted I was by the end of last year.

Yesterday I spent some time putting the finishing touches on a client’s manuscript and was shocked at the number of typos and misspellings that had slipped past me. Among the things that hadn’t gotten done: Because Word sees almost all pharmaceutical brand names and generic drug names as incorrect, one’s eye goes blind to all the little red squiggles under every other scientific term. Long ago, I should have checked

every.

single.

drug.

name (patented or generic)!

at its manufacturer’s website.

Our heroic author had misspelled two drug names, and I, assuming after all the guy’s a doctor and he must be right, had missed those errors. Also missed a couple of mundane typos of the sort that escape the bleary eye. So tired was I that I was making stupid assumptions and neglecting to do tasks that ordinarily would be routine.

Of course I picked up that nasty cold just before Christmas, hours after the last day of class, and then was pounced by the Index from Hell. No doubt it was sent to Hell in the first place by my overall zombification; a job that should have taken a week morphed into a three-week marathon.

I’m not missing the teaching income (yet): The Copyeditor’s Desk doubled its revenue goal in January and has done OK so far this month. But that’s not going to last, unless serendipity strikes again…we’re almost out of work and nothing new is in sight. I may be forced to get off my duff and hustle up some jobs.

But in the meantime, not working is some kinda heaven!

Having to schlep to a college campus and cope with roomsful of restless, ill-educated, ill-mannered post-adolescents was blighting my life. In the absence of having to devote some part of every day to tasks I don’t much care for, my life has completely changed. Even though this damn back thing makes everything hurt from the waist down, I feel wonderful!

P1010966Literally. Every day is downright blissful. Rain or shine, it’s a beautiful day. (Well. The frost we might have done without…) It’s so heavenly to accompany the Queen of the Universe to the park, loaf around watching tiny people play on the kiddie gym and moms push babes around in strollers and carriages, soak up the sun, and just do…nothing.

And it’s so wonderful to have my house be picked up and clean, without my having to find a full day in which to work myself sick to make that happen. I hate living in a pigpen! But that was what my house was, when I was too busy and too tired to take care of it.

Then there’s the magnificent meal in the middle of the day, complete with rather more wine than prescribed. Today: grilled steak, avocado and butter lettuce salad, grilled yellow summer squash swimming in home-made cherry tomato sauce, strawberries with Greek-style yogurt and crunchy sugar, Castle Rock cheap but highly acceptable pinot noir. Coffee.

And an amazing new phenomenon: sleeping seven hours a night, come Hell, high water, or Saturday Night Live. Yes. True that. The four-hour nighttime naps have gone away. When I go to bed, I sleep seven hours, not the four hours on average (range: two to five hours) to which I had become accustomed. Fall into the sack at 9:00 p.m.: wake up at  4:00 a.m. Go to bed at midnight: wake up at 7:00 a.m. Imagine that!

Life is, for a change, worth living.

What is this? The middle of February? It actually has taken all this time — two and a half  months — to unwind enough and rest enough even to become aware of the bliss the new state of affairs brings.

Bumhood.

Some years ago (quite a few, come to think of it), an ambitious young fellow got hired as an associate by the prestigious law firm in which my then-husband was a partner. He accomplished this coup largely on the strength of an original scheme he’d come up with as a student: he spent a summer living on the streets with the homeless, and then he wrote a paper about the experience, which he’d managed to get published.

He once remarked that the single fact that struck him most was the overall happiness of the people he’d met. Even though many, he allowed, were mentally ill, by and large they were surprisingly content and not at all grieved by their chronic state of unemployment. They were reasonably well fed and had adapted to life in a cardboard box; by and large they felt they had few serious problems to deal with and were satisfied with their existence.

He came to mind the other day as The Queen and I were wandering around the park. She wears out pretty fast if I make her hike along briskly (after all, one of my steps equals about ten of hers), but allowed to stroll at her own mostly leisurely pace (except when cats and small children heave into sight), she would probably go a long, long way. Forever, maybe. It  occurred to me that if I chose, this dog and I could spend the whole day just roaming around. If I could get her on the bus or the train (and I could, by claiming she’s a “service animal” — one lady brings her poodle to church in that guise), we could explore the entire city on foot. If we so chose.

When my ex- and I lived in the Encanto district (a richly yuppified central-city lawyers’ and doctors’ ghetto), several homeless shelters and halfway houses resided nearby. These outfits would take in people about 5 or 6 p.m., feed them, bed them down, and then eject them by 8 in the morning. They had no place to go. And so what they would do is walk, ride the buses, or sit in the city library all day long. One old gal used to walk around the city all the time. No matter where you went south of Indian School, sooner or later you’d see her marching along the streets. And there was a guy who’d make it up to Glendale, walking, walking, walking.

Cassie and I have our own flophouse. We could see the city, for the price of a pair of shoes and a senior citizen’s bus pass.

Bumhood is good. I like it.

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Author: funny

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10 Comments

  1. That lunch sounds very yummy! I recognize the bumhood feeling from winter break… only mine had a deadline that eventually I could feel fast approaching. The apartment is still a wreck. Still, the extra time to read and lounge and play with the animals was appreciated.

  2. Not so long ago I befriended a “homeless gent”….Mr. Johnson. He used to hang out in front of the Baltimore Sun building and pass the time. I enjoyed talking with him as he explained to me just how he wound up homeless, how he viewed the world and what the future held. I came to look forward to our chats and when it got cold I worried about him. But like your friend with his homeless companions I found him to always be upbeat and never heard him complain. AND he was smart …showing me a steam grate around the corner where he would place a large box and sleep quite comfortably in the dead of winter or show me where the best places to scrounge for food were. I remember his words…”I live by my wits”. …indeed he did…..

  3. Actually I was at the other end of the “spectrum”….some time ago I was a distributor for the Sun…a very good one…it was rewarding in many ways. Long story short I left the Sun when the Chcago Tribune folks took over and their “ninja math” just made no sense to me. I thanked them for the opportunity and went about my business. Some time later I was approached by a VP with the Sun, that I had worked with on several projects , to work as an outside sales rep for a chain of sign franchises that they had acquired. I found this work rewarding in many ways and got to do a lot of neat things with a lot of gifted and talented people…..and made a few bucks. Anyway with my comings and goings out of the building Mr. Johnson and I became friends. We would sit on a bench down the block and talk a bit…share a bite or a cup of coffee. I found him to be smart and intersting but with just a hint of mental illness and a little bitterness of opportunities missed. I personally found it truly ironic that at a time when the Sun was struggling to find readers and articles that would engage it’s subscribers …there sat a story waiting to be told by a slight man in a long coat at their doors. I often wonder what happened to Mr. Johnson…..

    • That’s a interesting story! It’s amazing how one’s career shakes out, isn’t it?

      I’d heard things went totally down the tubes at the Sun. Karen was gone before then, of course — died in her early 40s. Right about the time, I suppose, that daily journalism died…

      A lot of people who decline or fail (the one deliberate, the other through no choice of their own) to follow conventional life trajectories are very interesting people. I’ve found that some don’t really suffer from mental illness — they’re crazy like foxes. 😉

  4. I am so happy for you! This post is the exact reason why I strive to keep spending in check so that one day in the distant but too distant future I choose whether to continue working

  5. And how is SDXB, your mentor in Bumhood?

  6. Funny…I too would enjoy hearing more about your “mentor in bumhood”….SDXB, he sounds very interesting and hope he gets that disc problem straightened out.
    As for Mr. Johnson…we met from 2000-2003. He was always courteous, thanked me when I offered him a coffe or a bite AND would not accept a ride. I offered on many occasions to give him a ride and he would decline always…I guess he wanted to maintain his independence.
    As for the Baltimore Sun….certainly sorry to hear of your friends passing at such an early age. And something to think about….when I began working with the Baltimore Sun they were a highly respected publication…so much so that Times Mirror bought them for $600 million….that’s right $600,000,000. Years later, Times Mirror was then acquired by “The Trib” and we all know what happened next. Well, fresh out of BK the Tribune would now like to divest itself of the Sun and it’s my understanding it’s worth no more than $20 million in todays market and could go lower. The paper has lost it’s relevance along with a lot of good people….it may have no value …