Comic Con Pays Off

Ian got my favorite comic book writer/artist to sign one of my comic books while he enjoys four days of Emerald City Comic Con.

 Signed copy of "Mage: Hero Discovered Vol. 1"

Meanwhile, while Ian’s been in Seattle, Benji and I have had:

  • A surprising Thursday – We thought Benji would spend the night at my parents’ house, but my mom came down with a sinus infection, so he came home instead. Mere words cannot express the depth of his sorrow.
  • An easy Friday – Ian actually arrived home on a bus that dropped off near Benji’s school, just as school was getting out. Then, about 6:00, my dad and, a little later, Teresa arrived for pasta dinner. Nice!
  • A fun but exhausting Saturday – After substantial initial resistance, Benji conceded to my plan to spend the morning taking a ferry to Kingston and back. This turned out delightful, if wet and sandy. We have an afternoon hiking date with my friend Ellen, and I think I’m going to have to wake Benji up from his nap to keep the date. That means it was a successful morning!

I’m planning to sneak out on my newly repaired S-Works for a solo ride tomorrow while grandparents take Benji.

After all this, I’m going to need a whole nother weekend to recover!

Something Good

After a long journey, my beautiful S-Works, Swift, has returned to me whole and rebuilt.

S-Works 2.0 - #rebuiltintheUSA

The summary story: FedEx crushed the top tube in October. After pursuing all imaginable avenues for replacement — remuneration from BikeFlights, FedEx, and our insurance company getting; a comp replacement from Specialized; buying a new frame for a crash replacement price — I finally looked into getting it repaired.

I got it repaired at Ruckus Composites in Portland, and they added some lovely additional details designed by my biking buddy David Hose.

It came in last Friday, and after some hiccups — we had to acquire a seatpost clamp and cover at the last minute; the bike shop wasn’t ready, so I switched to bike shops — Woodinville Bike Shop built it up for me this afternoon.

I’m really, really excited to ride it. This weekend looks phenomenal, weather-wise, but I’ll be spending Saturday with Benji while Ian enjoys Emerald City Comic Con. Sunday, however, I’m hoping will be my day.

A Piece of Poo

Yesterday I had a rough finish to my workday. I’d spent most of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday working very hard on an urgent marketing piece. By the end of yesterday I thought the marketing guy and I had it buttoned up. We’d gone through two rounds of edits by the final approver, and just sent it back for one last confirmation that our last tweaks met the need.

Apparently not.

The approver shredded (metaphorically; it was a digital file) the document, rewriting vast swathes, stomping like an elephant through the delicately crafted savannah of my work. I’d put in almost three days of work on this, and now the approver — who is not a writer and who knows next to nothing about good writing — took my work, tossed it out the window, and rewrote the entire thing in their own words.

I’m not normally protective of my work. You’ve got to develop a thick skin when it comes to editorial revisions if you write professionally. You have to let even the loveliest turn of phrase go to the chopping block, if need be. While it’s painful, I think I do an okay job accepting even really deep editorial changes when it’s appropriate.

But the approver didn’t offer editorial suggestions; they rewrote in whole cloth, changing sections that the approver hadn’t mentioned as having issues in previous reviews, axing perfectly fine sentences and paragraphs and replacing them with the same thing in the approver’s own words. The approver clearly thinks they are a better writer than the professional writers they have on staff.

It sent such a negative message to me, I still feel sick. I didn’t sleep much, and I’m dreading going to work for the first time in my two years at my job. By completely rewriting my hard-earned work, the approver implied:

  • My work is crap. The approver, who’s a company executive, thinks they know more about writing than I do. I worked really hard to write something good, that I was proud of, and the product of that hard work — which I thought was actually pretty good — is worthless to the approver.
  • The approver doesn’t trust me to do my job. They previously provided (in my opinion excessively) detailed, line-by-line feedback, which we incorporated. But that wasn’t good enough. The only person the approver trusts to write it is themselves.
  • My three days of work don’t matter. I put aside an enormous, challenging, high-pressure tech writing project to work on this marketing article. That project remains unfinished, other deadlines are fast approaching, and this marketing article has turned into a zombie project that just won’t die. Also, presumably the approver has their own work to do — you know, doing whatever executives do. Making high-level decisions, maybe. I don’t know. I’ll never be an executive, thankfully. Don’t they have anything better to do than nitpick (honestly, “nitpick” implies a smallness to the scale that really isn’t accurate) a perfectly good piece?

When I told my boss all this, he said, “Well, the approver isn’t good at people.” He wanted me to understand that this drawing and quartering of my document wasn’t personal; the approver wasn’t trying to send me a message.

To which I say: If you’re in an executive position, it’s your job to be good at people. You cast a huge shadow, and you have to be aware of the impact to everyone it touches. I’m not giving them any grace here, because they are completely in the wrong. They are wrong to go in and do someone else’s job. They are wrong not to consider the impact of doing so. And they are wrong to make our company look worse by sending out low-quality marketing copy.

The article was good; it was ready to go, and their “edits” made it substantially worse — and I know it won’t matter. They’ll get their way, my company will look like incompetent communicators when we send out this ugly, kludgy piece of trash, and I’ll still feel like a piece of poo on the bottom of the approver’s shoe.

I’m starting to think that maybe marketing writing isn’t for me after all.

*Note: I know I’ve misused “they” and “themselves” throughout. English doesn’t have a good neutral pronoun, and I didn’t want to get into any specifics, so “they” it is.

Hubris and Humility

The first time it snowed, back about an eon ago (I think it was February 3?), I bike commuted home within a couple days. I rode my bike with studded tires and, although I did hit a few hairy spots, made it home just fine both days.

I thought I’d do the same thing this week. We’ve had some weather in the mid- to high 30s, and roads just have some water but no I’ve, so I figured most anything I encountered on the trails would have melted into slush that I could ride through no problem. I decided to ride the Burke-Gilman the whole way, to avoid some of the unpleasantness on the 520 trail and in Kirkland.

Long story short: I’ve rarely been so wrong, or made such a totally off base decision. Don’t get me wrong, I make mistakes and bad choices all the time – little ones. This biking plan definitely takes the cake.

I made it through the UW, but (in retrospect) the patches of icy slush should really have warned me to cut my losses early. Instead, I thought, well, maybe things are really packed down and slippery here, but where fewer people went will be better. More melted, less bumpy sheets of ice with slush on top.

Nope.

By the time I reached Seattle Children’s, I had realized a few things:

  1. I was going really slow and having to walk a lot. The sun was setting soon, and once it got dark, this would transition from miserable into miserable and dangerous.
  2. The cold, splatty rain would freeze me at this pace.
  3. I wasn’t getting home on the trail.

But how would I get home? I started to panic.

If I turned around, I’d have to face all those patches of slippery ice all over again – with no guarantee of being able to cross 520. If I turned around, though, I could try to get to Montlake to catch a bus home… however long that might take.

I really didn’t want to do that whole long, icy trek again.

Ian offered to pick me up or meet me near 522. That would work but I felt bad forcing him and Benji to drive through traffic both ways just to come get me.

Finally I realized I was very close to my friend Ellen’s house. I called her, and – bless her heart – she was willing to drive me home, even though it was Valentine’s Day and she had stuff to do.

When I got to her house, she had a better plan: Her brother, who lives just a couple miles from my house, was stopping by her house. In fact, he arrived moments after I did. I left my bike at Ellen’s – it’s in good company – and her brother drove me home.

Needless to say, I thanked him effusively.

It wasn’t the commute I planned, but I’m thankful that God made a way despite my foolish choices. And I’ve learned a good lesson in arrogance and humility.

Flaked Out

I hope this will be my last snow-related post for a while, but the forecast remains iffy enough that it may prove nothing but a beautiful dream.

After we had fun sledding on Sunday and building a snowman on Monday, the novelty finally started wearing off.

School remains closed today, Thursday, for the seventh day out of the last nine school days. Even Benji has started saying he wants things to get back to normal, including school. He’s not going to get his wish any time soon, though, because he and Mom fly to LA on Saturday morning for midwinter break. Between snow and planned breaks, he will have had most of three weeks off by the end of the month. Good thing it’s only kindergarten.

Our neighborhood retained its 18″ of snow, slowly converting to slush as temperatures soared into the mid-30s, until yesterday afternoon. At that point we rejoiced to see a rainbow unicorn in the form of a city snow plow clearing our streets. After that, the melting actually made a difference.

Ian and I both worked from home Monday through Wednesday this week, as well as Monday, Tuesday, and Friday last week. I never thought I’d feel so keen to go into the office. Turns out that I started wanting human interaction after all.

I will miss wearing PJ pants all day and listening to music without headphones, and I still don’t love the commute. Nor does it love me. But I’m happy to have the opportunity to slog though the commute anyway.

In short: we’ll gladly welcome our usual winter weather back any time. And if the forecast is any indication, we’ve got a solid couple days of high 30s and rain coming. Delightful!