Friday, July 1, 2022

Friday Feature: Would You Take an Air Taxi?

 Have you heard of eVOTL aircraft? I had not. It stands for electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing, and it's the technology behind air taxis. 

That's right. Bye bye slow go, hello speedy service. 

Joby Aviation, one of the companies behind this technological marvel, received its initial FAA certification last month and hopes to have its full-scale air taxi service up (literally) and running by 2024. 

Meanwhile, in a hangar in Los Angeles, Archer Aviation debuted its air taxi earlier this month, too. It also hopes to launch (again, literally) in 2024.

You know what that means? We have two years to decide whether to stay grounded in our vehicles or take the faster, albeit cooler (or scarier -- choose your adjective) mode of transportation. And, as a technological marvel that doesn't come with the price tag of "space travel" à la Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk, air taxis could be within reach, price-wise, of those of us who don't operate billion dollar organizations.

I'm intrigued but, as someone who hates "puddle jumper" planes, I have to admit to having reservations, as opposed to being ready to make them. The hangar test-ride sounds cool to me, though, because it gives me a chance to allow my stomach to weigh in before I make a commitment. 

How about you? Are you ready to climb aboard, or up in the air about your desire to hop on?

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Way Back Wednesday: Summer Wish Lists

 As I kicked off my summer break this week, I came across these posts from last summer. Since it's June, I can't really complain about the number of days remaining in my summer break (see below), but I thought revisiting these lists might be fun. I especially enjoyed the intro and list from last June:  

It’s the last day of class and the weather is beautiful. I’m sitting out on my patio with a fleece throw on my lap because the sun has gone down and it’s gotten cool. This is my favorite weather and one of my favorite places. By Christmas, it will be bigger and glass enclosed (and hopefully better furnished as I am currently sharing space with bicycles). 

One year later, it is enclosed, much better furnished, and the bicycles have found another home. 

It’s a good spot for relaxation and contemplation and I, doing a good bit of both, am making plans for the down time I promised myself when my summer class wrapped. Here are the top 12 on my list, in no particular order (with check marks and parenthetical comments reflecting how well I'm doing so far this summer).

  • Sleeping in ✔️
  • Putting an away message on my work email ✔️
  • Not running out of day before I run out of list (working on it)
  • Reviving my sketchnoting and trying out some of the thing I’m learning in my graphic design class (still on the list)
  • Curling up with a book, guilt-free, in the middle of the day (still on the list)
  • Getting to all the things at the bottom of my list (still on the list)
  • Paying attention to all the little projects around my house (working on it)
  • Cleaning and organizing my office and maybe even my basement (still on the list)
  • Sitting down and doing something I enjoy without the nagging feeling that I should be doing something else (working on it)
  • Emailing friends and spending relaxed time with family (working on it)
  • Writing ✔️
  • More porch time on cool mornings and night like this one ✔️
I also found it interesting that, last summer, I started digging into writing goals ahead of summer break, first with preparation for the virtual retreat, then the retreat itself and, finally, with the Write-a-thon I rolled into immediately after that. The goal was to set myself up so I was ready to roll when class was over, something I did again this summer with an online class last Saturday and a three-day workshop this week.

When I looked back on a second post, this one from the end of last summer, my list of a dozen things I like about summer had quite a bit of crossover: 

12. No papers to grade (after summer session is over)

11. Being able to legitimately ignore my work email (some of it, anyway)

10. Sleeping in (not a morning person)

9. Starting my days out slowly (tiptoeing into them, if possible)

8. Spending mornings on the patio (a reasonable facsimile of the screened-in patio at the beach)

7. Listening to the bells (from a local church whose carillon plays hymns at noon) 

6. My birthday (even when I don't like the number, like this year)

5. Netflix and HBO binges (yes, that means you Hacks and Mare of Easttown)

4. Calendars with empty pages to fill (which is why I don't know what day it is!)

3. Trips to the beach (though fall is nice too)

2. Time to read for fun (actually finishing books!)

1. Planning new things (relaxation leads to creativity and time with people I love)

What can I say? I'm a woman who knows what she wants. 

What's on your summer wish list?

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

K is for Kelsey

Kelsey? Who's that? 

Kelsey is the protagonist in a novel that I finished close to ten years ago. The book was too long so, after a respectable waiting period (or perhaps one that was a little longer than respectable), I pulled it out and revised it with an eye toward making it shorter. But it was still too long, so back into the drawer it went.  

Meanwhile, my critique group added a few members and lost a few more. Since several members hadn't yet read the book, I asked the group if they'd mind reading it again. They kindly agreed (and one gave me a great title) and Kelsey came one step closer to life outside the drawer.

But after that revision, life, including my publishing life, got busy and Kelsey took a back seat to Marita and friends and Know Thyself. More time passed, more ideas took flight...and Kelsey is still in the drawer. I take her out for air and a bit of revision every now and then, but have yet to commit to her as she deserves. 

Last week, an ad for  an agent-led workshop on submission packets hit my inbox. I immediately signed up, excited to kick off my first official week of vacation with advice from the pros. It seemed like a great way to not only dig into my writing projects, but to get Kelsey out of the drawer, out the door, and into an agent's inbox. 

If I'm honest with myself, there's something more than a preference for shiny new projects over the  revision of old ones at work here. It's more than a little bit possible that my foot-dragging has to do with a lack of confidence. The longer a project sits, the easier it is to focus on its flaws and run, in self-defense, toward shiny new objects, spending as much time as possible with them before their shine wears off. And, in a world where there are exponentially more authors than agents and a lack of response is the default, I've been greeted with deafening silence on the few occasions where I've gotten brave and tossed my submission into an agent's ring. 

So, this morning, I got up with an alarm (no small feat if you know me) to be at my keyboard when the first session dropped. 

It was amazing. And, shiny new object that it was, I immersed myself in it, even doing the homework and posting my fledgling query letter for strangers to critique, and introducing Kelsey -- and myself -- to a world outside her drawer.

K is for Kelsey. Professional organizer. Wife. Woman in transition, who wishes emotions could be organized as neatly as stuff. Character deserving of the work it will take to get her out of the drawer and out into the world. 

Wish us luck.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The Semi-Annual Flip Flop Day

 Today is the official last day of my summer class. If you’re a regular reader, you know what that means.

Flip-flop day is imminent.

This particular flip flop day has nothing to do with footwear -- I've been wearing those for weeks. It’s the day my schedule priorities shift. 

Unlike the summer in the pre-pandemic post below, I didn't have three weeks between spring semester and the start of my summer class (more like three days). But right now, that seems like a good thing because it means I get to flip flop sooner.

The exact day of this schedule flip flop is still to be determined, as I have to finish my grading first. But, after that, my summer class will be "in the books" as they say.

Wanna know how I'm celebrating? 

I signed up for a class.

But this time, I'm the student. It's a three-day workshop on the submissions process and it seemed like a great way to improve my skills and get serious about my priorities for the rest of the summer. And, as someone who loves to learn as much as she loves to teach, it's the perfect transition -- one that will, I hope, help me get Project #2 off the back burner and into the writing rotation.

So now, if you'll excuse me, I have some grading to do. The sooner I finish it, the sooner I get to flip flop. And, although my daughter won't be here this summer,  I will, for the first time, have a screened-in patio at the ready 24-7.

My favorite writing space. I can hardly wait.

No beach for a while yet, but I can live with that.
Photo credit: Irkata via Pixabay

My schedule is about to flip flop and I couldn't be happier. Then again, how could anyone be disappointed in something that involves flip flops?

I love teaching. And if I had any doubt about that whatsoever, it disappeared when I retired from 27 years in education only to seek out more teaching opportunities. Initially, I sought them out as an additional stream of income and as something to keep me occupied and busy. Then, I landed a teaching position at the local college -- one that grew from a single class to a full-time job. But, as the plaque my husband gave me the first summer after I retired says, "If I don't want to, you can't make me. I'm retired."

And I want to. Teaching inspires my creativity and feeds my need to connect with other people. It also feeds the helping persona inherent in my personality (some might call her bossy...) and ingrained in my identity through more than a quarter of a century as a counselor.

But I also love writing. And during the school term, it's sometimes difficult to find enough creative energy for planning and preparing lessons and planning and preparing manuscripts. And so now that the semester is almost over, writing projects are once again taking their place at the top of my priority list. I'm looking forward to being able to spend entire days focused on all of the aspects of a writing career -- submitting, promoting and, of course, the writing itself -- for three glorious weeks.

Wait. Only three weeks?

In three weeks, summer session will begin. Though it's less overwhelming than fall and spring semester (one small class, compared to three classes roughly three times the size of a summer class), it will also need its place in my calendar. In addition, my daughter will be home.

And my book comes out in June.

Never a dull moment around here. Luckily, the flip flop in my schedule fuels the writing spark much the same way as a trip to the beach recharges my spirit. Coupled with longer days and my family all under one roof again, I'm ready.

Bring on summer.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

20 Things That Bring Me Joy

 Last week, I sat down to write my "J" post with two ideas in mind. I thought I could weave them together into a single post, but that turned out not to be the case. Well, I could have, but you might still be reading that last post. :-)

Luckily joy is definitely worth writing about more than once. I promise to move on next week but, this week, I'm sticking with J, and listing a few of the many things that bring me joy, hoping I can inspire you to do the same.

Because joy is often so deepened by interconnection, it's impossible to put these in any order but one that is random. And I'm sure I've missed a few, too.

  1. Days with promise and possibility
  2. My whole family together in one place
  3. Watching my daughter come into her own
  4. Laughing with friends
  5. Writing
  6. Starbucks iced chai tea lattes
  7. Our new sunroom on a beautiful day -- or a cloudy one for that matter
  8. Quiet evenings in the sunroom with my husband
  9. Splurges (but not the impulsive kind)
  10. My Kate Spade planner
  11. The Container Store -- (see also #1) 
  12. Singing
  13. Performing on stage
  14. Jersey!! (New Jersey, that is)
  15. The perfect piece of prose (mine or someone else's)
  16. Teaching
  17. The beach 
  18. Reaching a goal
  19. People who are kind
  20. A great bookstore
  21. A good book

Your turn :-) Share your joys in the comments below.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Friday Feature: Always Eat Lunch

 I don't remember much about the district party the year I retired. Other people gave speeches. I gave one, too, but the only thing I remember is my concluding statement. 

"Always eat lunch."

It seems so silly, so simple, but so many people don't eat lunch. And, of those who do, many don't stop working. Instead, they eat at their desks or nibble on something as they move around doing more work.

And they all think it's necessary.

And me? Now that I'm retired (sort of), I'm guilty of that some days, too. I get on a roll, and I don't want to stop long enough to have a civilized meal.

If I lived in France, this would not be allowed. What started as a move to keep people physically healthy became so embedded in the culture that working lunches are unheard of.

Little did I know my advice was so cosmopolitan. 

I did know, however, that taking a break is good for our mental health and, as it turns out, for our productivity as well. What seems like wasted time is actually time well spent. 

Kind of like kids and recess. But that's another blog post.

So, whether it's because you're cosmopolitan, in need of a break or just hungry, treat yourself to an actual lunch.

You deserve it.