@dudeascending I'm going to visit next month and am definitely going to look over his benefits if he'll let me. He doesn't utilize much from the VA because it's so far from where he lives, but I bet there are other programs he could tap into via the benefits site. Thanks much for the suggestions (and for the typewriter tip!)
@dudeascending Totally fair question. The simple answer is that they 1) lost a lot of savings when the stock market crashed in 2008. Then, 2) these are very small pensions we're talking about, which are then coupled with 3) very high medical bills, like several years in assisted living facility kind of bills. Their bills every month are slightly more than what they bring in, so the remaining savings is slowly being spent. With no opportunity for more income, that's the truly frightening part.
@Lily Rowan I usually work in stealth mode and pay before anyone knows what's happening, but I couldn't deny him that day. He was so excited! We'd been married for a while but waited to tell him and Gram that we'd made it official until we were there in person. And then they prayed for our lifelong happiness right there under the outdoor diner table umbrella! Grandparent <3
@Lily Rowan Actual picture of Grandpa forcibly paying the bill at a restaurant, no less! To his credit, he paid that particular day to celebrate that my partner and I had finally gotten married. The epic battle of who gets to leave the tip rages on...
@ThatJenn INFJ pride! My BFF and husband are both INTJs, which is apparently quite strange, all of us clustered together like that and such rare types. Uh, we are the 1%?
For the first time in my adult life, I know a lot of people in my building, mostly because I go out of my way to say hi, pet their dogs, etc. My guy and I just moved from one unit in our building into another bigger one when the former tenant moved out after 17 years (!), and we totally got her place because we had been friendly and checked her mail for her when she was out of town. Now we're good pals with the guy who lives in our old unit. Yay neighbors!
Yay Lauren! I have that floss threader thing too. Does anyone else think their permanent retainer is kind of awesome but also sort of creepy? Like will it ever random detach?
@jfruh Best customer service EVER EVER EVERRR, great rewards perks if you get one that matches your lifestyle, and they're pretty much the only people who can bail you out in certain situations (in my limited experience, ie being somewhere cash-only without cash/debit, no one but AmEx could dispense money from an ATM right that second at a reasonable rate right). I dunno which ones don't allow it, but my AmEx allows me to carry a balance. I wouldn't trade my AmEx for five Visas.
@AnnieNilsson I hear you. Fear is huge. I can't explain how/when/why I got over it, but I did have a few people really shake some sense into me by saying such simple things as "Pitch who you want to write for." I think Mridu Khullar has a very good blog and an excellent archive of info about how she got started, query letters that worked, etc. (She's also a buddy of mine, so I'm biased.) She's also younger than a lot of other bloggers who specifically cover freelance writing, which isn't to slam anyone but might make her overall tone and experience a bit more relatable. She's also a generalist, so she doesn't just have advice for, say, business reporters. Other intro to freelancing writer blogs that come to mind are Dollars and Deadlines (which is written by a very kind and generous writer named Kelly James-Enger) and the Renegade Writer (I think that's what it's called). I also highly recommend my good friend Michelle Goodman's books on freelancing, The Anti 9-to-5 Guide and My So-Called Freelance Life. Again, very biased because I love Michelle, but I read her books several years ago and found them to be enormously helpful as I was getting started. Re: making freelancer friends, which I can't emphasize enough and will thus talk about some more, look for folks in your area and invite them to coffee. Look for a writers group that does what you want it to do. (Mine, for instance, is about the business of freelancing. We talk about contracts and negotiating, not grammar. We all compare business plans -- yes, we have them -- and check in about monthly progress toward whatever goals we have, whether it's income or byline. We're also all ladies and cover diverse subjects, which seems to keep things extra interesting.) Go to media events, walk up to people, and introduce yourself, even if you think that sounds like torture. (People hire people they know, and this has actually worked for me.) Ask friends of friends out to talk shop. (The worst they'll say is no!) Most importantly, always bring something to the table -- a lead on a website looking for writers, editor contact info that you're willing to swap for some of theirs. If you don't have that to offer, think of how else you can helpful and invaluable. This might sound rude, but when other writers ask me to meet up, I always meet the people who graciously offer something. We're professionals, you know? This is business. Likewise, when I want for a writer or editor to have lunch with me, I give them a good reason. "Hey, let me buy you coffee. I think you should connect with my editor at X magazine, and I can tell you more about what they're looking for." Make it hard to say no. Lots of people are willing to share friendly advice. It's all about the approach :)
@AnnieNilsson @megano! You should check out some freelance writer blogs for tips on getting started. There are loads of them out there, some with very practical, simple advice. Some of it might come across as dumb or obvious, but it sounds like y'all need a 101 game plan. Lots of them will explain the basics of pitching, how to find editor contact info, etc. It's most definitely not rocket science, though the fear thing can be the most debilitating aspect (or at least I've sure seen/experienced it as that). If fear is really holding you back, you might need to get used to the idea of feeling indefinitely nauseous but also remembering that editors are just other people. I used to think some of mine hated me, but that's absurd. Most are very friendly, even if they reject your ideas sometimes! Editors like to get good ideas from friendly people who can craft a solid pitch and meet a deadline. Like you, they want to work with other professionals. They'll really like you if you can master those very simple things and might even offer you work that you don't ask for. Just my two cents as a very happy freelancer with many happy repeat clients :) Oh and PS -- I don't know a single person who uses CL or any of those sites that supposedly give you tips on which pubs to pitch. But that's just me. Making friends with other freelancers and folks in your (desired) industry is a far better use of your time. Friends and colleagues give friends and colleagues tips and even gigs. It's that simple.