Sometimes it just works out

A friend of mine gave me a really lovely plant about a year ago. Unlike many plants I’ve owned, I watered it, and it didn’t die. Quite the opposite. It grew. I didn’t realize quite how much until I was moving into a new location recently, and one big, long branch of the plant, which had grown against the window, broke right off when I pulled it away from its support. Half the plant was gone. The flowering half.

Dammit. Even the plants I think I’m not killing, I end up killing. I was about to throw the branch away when I thought, “What can it hurt to stick the stump of this branch into the dirt?”

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Working through trials to find a bit of treasure

Today has been..[sigh]…a day. In the last 48 hours, the number of people who have totally flaked on scheduled interviews with me can barely be counted on one hand. They have caused me stress, wasted my time, made me miss deadlines and some actually cost me money. This happens on occasion, but rarely does it occur multiple times on the same day, much less then same project, which a couple of these instances were. Not all though. For whatever reasons, multiple sources from multiple stories for multiple publications all decided to hate me at the same time.
On a scale that includes world hunger and human rights abuses, my day hasn’t been that bad, but as I finally gave up and turned in the pieces in question, I felt the unsettled ache in my stomach of a passing nightmare. It was over, but it was still pretty bad. I might have had a little cry. I’ll probably soak in the tub in a bit, but first I had to share this little piece of wonderful that came out of the misery.

When a needed interview vanishes hours before a deadline, a writer must take to the internet to find “web content.” This is no easy task. There might be dozens of articles, blogs and websites that would prove the right point or support the narrative at hand, but the tricky thing about being a journalist is the source and quality of the content matters. The source has to be verifiable, legitimate, etc. For this piece, I was searching everywhere from business news sites to eBay, and it was on eBay – where treasures are known to be found – that I encountered back copies of GMC Truck News, a General Motors magazine that was once in print. It was written by R.A. Sumpter, also known as Robert Sumpter, also known as my grandfather.
My aunt recently gave me a copy of GMC Truck News that Grandpa had given her before he died. She wanted me to have it, and I couldn’t have been more pleased. It’s not just that I am also a writer. I also, 50 years later, write a good deal of branded content for companies, very similar to what he did for General Motors. It wasn’t something I aspired to, it was just one of those lucky things I stumbled upon. Though I can’t ask him, as he died 15 years ago, I believe he would have said the same thing.

And as it turns out, there are more volumes of his work available on eBay. I sort of want to buy them all up. I might. Whether or not I do though, it feels so wonderful to know that his work is still out there, in the same industry as mine, and that I even had an assignment that caused the paths of our work to cross. That no-good, super-annoying, tear-inducing horror of an assignment. That I am so glad I received.

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Things to be happy about

Here’s something most people don’t know: I was a highly anxious kid. I worried so much, in fact, that my mother determined it was a problem that needed to be fixed. A fixer of the highest order, she may have over-fixed me, but being a low-anxiety optimist hasn’t served me too poorly. Thanks, Mom.

I’m sure she harnessed a variety of actions to teach me to manage my anxiety and pessimism, but the two I remember the most are getting me a set of worry dolls and buying me the book, 14,000 Things to Be Happy About. I read the whole thing. I even took notes in the margins, including different colored dots to note how each item made me feel. It was just a long list of items, including such minutia as, “the position of your head as you bite into a taco,” but it truly changed my perspective on life. I wish I still had that book with my notes and all of its creased pages, but since I don’t, here are some things that I feel happy about today:

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Taking a Moment to Not Freak Out

When you’re living life a breakneck speed, with five different goals and 35 things to do to reach each one, it’s easy to freak out when something goes wrong. One plate starts wobbling, threatening to fall, and we immediately throw all the rest in the air because OHMYGODICAN’TKEEPTHISUPWITHTHISKINDOFFAILUREI’MJUSTGOINGTOQUIT.

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Being excited that today is today

Lois, our giant white and black dog, wakes up every morning so excited that today is today. She loves today. Today, Lois feels, is the best day ever, every day. And why not? She doesn’t know about gridlock in Washington or women’s reproductive rights being under assault all over the nation, or how many extra bills popped up this month, or ongoing racial inequality or gender inequality or the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Also, she’s a dog.

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What 9/11 means for my generation: A call for a less angry decade

The distance between 19 and 29 is always a revelatory one, but for me it has been a decade defined by the slow and steady realization of exactly what happened to us that day. Today, I feel most touched by 9/11 when I see politicians saying their goal is to defeat each other instead of promising to make changes for good. I see it in angry Facebook posts and scathing blogs. I see it in recall campaigns and fear-mongering around dinner tables. I see the anger everywhere, and it’s exhausting. I’m deeply disheartened by the negativity all around me. I’m more than disheartened; I’m disappointed.

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