A Time for Big Ideas: Freelancing & the 3-day weekend

Having grown up in a small tourist town in Northern Michigan, Memorial Day weekend has always been a different experience for me and mine. Tawasians don’t leave town for three-day weekends. Not only are we already in the kind of place most of the country is escaping to, but often, we work on Memorial Day. A town can’t close down when half the state is visiting. Plus, there’s invariably some parade of indiscernible tone happening that you have to be in or organize or attend.

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An exercise in perspective

It’s not often that I write here about a story I’ve written elsewhere. It’s also not often I write a story that alters one of my fundamental beliefs. And thus, I must share. Mostly because it’s reminded me how important it is, as a person and a writer, to view the world in all its dimensions, rather than categorize things and people as “good” or “bad.”
I was recently assigned a story about a city that has no traditional downtown, but is working to make its commercial area more walkable, urban and appealing to residents. As a development nerd, I’ve long believed downtowns are good and sprawl is bad. I’ve scorned cities that are just miles of big box stores and parking lots, believing they should receive no help from government, big ideas from planners or love from people. They are the bad places, and downtowns are the good. Southgate, by this definition, was one of the bad places.

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The Joy of Waiting

I’m about to have an idea. Don’t ask me how I know it, I just do, and I’m super excited about it. I’m also about to have a nephew, and my vocabulary isn’t deep enough to express how thrilled I am about his new human who is about to be my favorite human who has ever existed. I’m actually excited about a number of pending things, which shouldn’t be an unusual thing to confess, except that it is. Because it’s not just that I’m excited about things that I’m waiting for, but also that I’m actually enjoying waiting for them. And that is new.

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Committing to ideas like Lois to a new friend

It was a pretty big day for Lois. On her morning walk with Mike to the place we call the Magical Toy Forest, she found an exciting new toy. Now, Lois find toys there all the time, hence the clever name. But today she found a particularly thrilling deflated white rubber soccer ball, and the two have been inseparable ever since.

Seriously. She wouldn’t put it down, so Mike let her carry it home. The two of them got so dirty playing together (Ball and Lois, not Lois and Mike) that she had to stay in the backyard for the next two hours – where they played together the whole time. Then Mike and I took her for a 45 minute walk. She brought Ball along, carrying him the whole way. Finally, I decided if she wasn’t going to put the disgusting thing down after four hours, I was just going to have to give the both of them a bath.

Now, they’re both clean, happily playing together.

Lois doesn’t do things halfway. I like that about her. Actually, I’m a little jealous of her. Sometimes I get an idea that I’m really excited about, that I’m really attached to, and simply because it’s so intense and overwhelming and if I give it an inch it will take up the next four hours of my life, I put it right down. I decide I’ll come back to it later. Why not, right? It’ll still be there.

It’s never as exciting though, to come back to super amazing idea later and break it into little, manageable chunks. I want to give myself permission to glom on to inspiration the way Lois glommed on to Ball. I want to refuse to put it down, even if it’s time to go home or time for a walk or time for a bath.

Sometimes being an adult human with a job makes that more difficult than it is for a 2-year-old dog whose main job is doing cute things her owners can put on the internet. But I’d like to think it’s possible.

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