KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Busy, Busy, Busy

Hey, folks—I'm still around. I'm just very busy.

I have two book manuscripts on my desk, one on getting healthy by eating right and one on etiquette. Just finished two journal articles, one in Japanese medical English and the other in Taiwanese medical English. I'm working like crazy to get everything done.

And my oldest baby—Becky, 23—will marry her sweetheart, Li (26), on Sunday, August 6, my forty-seventh birthday. After the wedding, I may post some links here when photos are available.

Meanwhile, if you don't hear much from me for a while, you'll know why.

Updated 4 p.m., August 1, 2006: Becky and Li have come up against the first glitch with their wedding plans, and it's a biggie: Li's godfather is a minister, and he agreed several months ago to officiate at their ceremony. The ceremony and the reception will take place at a catering facility that offers complete wedding packages, which they signed up for because they're both working full time and she's also working on her master's degree in social work full time. Now they haven't been able to get in touch with the minister for several days. No one knows where he is. Ack! I am attempting to continue breathing. They may very well have to resort to asking the catering facility to get a minister or justice of the peace for them from the list of officiants that the facility works with. If they can't get an officiant in time, I guess the reception can go on and they can head over to the local city hall on Monday to get married there.

Updated 10:15 p.m., August 1, 2006: Whew! Becky and Li finally heard from the minister. He'd been unreachable because his mother had been hospitalized. He'll still be the officiant.

Updated September 15, 2006: Wedding photos are here.

daughter wedding Becky

Thursday, July 20, 2006

It Just Is

So when did you decide to be straight?

Did you wake up one day and decide that because your parents always put dresses on you when you were a girl, that meant you had to grow up to be a women who is attracted to men? Or was your decision to become a man who is attracted to women based on your enjoyment of all those neighborhood football games you played as a boy?

Sounds pretty silly, doesn’t it? Who decides to be straight? You just are who you are, right?

But those gay people—they decided to be gay, didn’t they?

Of course my brother Wally decided to be gay. Who wouldn’t want to grow up gay in the Bible Belt in southeast Texas and be told he was an evil sinner? Who wouldn’t want to fall in love, as a teenage boy, with another teenage boy, when all the adults are wondering out loud when he’ll ever get around to dating girls? What adult wouldn’t want to ache to touch his lover but yet be made to feel that he shouldn’t ever kiss him or hold hands with him in public? Who wouldn’t want to be asked to leave the hospital room of his dying soul mate and be told by nurses and doctors, “Only family members, please—you’re not family”?

Sexual orientation isn’t a choice. It isn't caused by your race or ethnic group. It isn't caused by your politics. It isn't caused by your economic status. It isn't caused by coming into contact with people of any specific sexual orientation. It just is. Don’t believe it? Watch this video, and then read what scientists have to say.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Real Women with Real Bodies

I am astounded by the power of The Shape of a Mother. What it does is what the Internet was meant to do.

It's a blog that tells the Truth—with a capital T—about women's bodies during and after pregnancy. Advertisers, TV, and movies make sure Americans see only svelte naked bellies and perky naked breasts on women, making plenty of women feel that they become ugly because of the changes pregnancy brings to their bodies. The Truth is that pregnancy and post-pregnancy female bodies are normal. The Truth is that they're beautiful, because they've given so much to sustain a new life.

If you're pregnant or have had one or more babies and feel you must hide your "ugly" body, go see the Truth. If you're a man and you think you don't or won't like women's bodies once they've been changed by pregnancy, you need to see the Truth and get educated.


Monday, July 17, 2006

The Discussion

Well, my husband (Ed) and I had that discussion about how his lack of time-management skills affect our relationship and our family life.

If you're uncomfortable with my openness on this topic and this part of my life, I'm sorry for your unease but I don't apologize for being upfront. Because attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) often has a stigma attached to it—the way anything to do with mental health does—I'm committed to being honest and public about it, to help get rid of the stigma that's imposed by silence and to let those who have AD/HD or live with someone who does know they're not alone. That commitment is also one of the reasons why I use my entire real name on this blog. I stand behind what I write, and I want people to know that if what I experience is similar to what they do, I'm a real person, which means their experiences are just are real as mine are. I love Ed and our son Neil, who also has AD/HD, with all my being, but love doesn't make living with AD/HD easy; just ask my Paxil, which I take because of situational depression. (That means that living in a situation of constant stress, caused by all the AD/HD around here, causes my depression—not that my abusive childhood didn't predispose me to depression, but that's another story.)

When I sat down with Ed for our talk, I wasn't nonjudgmental at first, the way I'd planned to be, though I was beforehand when rehearsing in my head. ;-) Don't we all behave better in our imagined scenarios than in reality? I confess that I started out yelling. Several years of Ed's increasing lateness had gotten to me, especially during last week, when our sons were camping locally with Ed's parents so that we could have a break. I'd very much wanted Ed home from work on time so that we'd have the maximum amount of time together possible—he's my favorite person in the whole world.

But when I'd calmed down, I explained how I knew that his time-management problem was a handicap but that people learn to work with handicaps—someone with a broken leg learns to walk with a crutch rather than give up walking. Ed's come so far in learning new behaviors since his AD/HD was diagnosed in 2000; he wouldn't have been promoted to foreman at work if he hadn't. It's just that relationship skills are the last area for him to work on, and I'm tired of being last. (And of course this isn't intentional on his part.) I explained that by working so late all the time, he's trained his boss (the company owner) to believe that he's superhuman and needs no rest away from work. But if he keeps this up, he'll burn out and suffer physically eventually. And I said that I knew he didn't mean to deprive me of himself, but by not setting an alarm on his cell phone or using some other method to remind him when the workday ends, he is depriving me. And he's depriving our sons of himself, of an on-time dinner, and of an on-time bedtime, which makes them crabby and groggy—and increases Neil's AD/HD behaviors from lack of sleep.

Besides Ed's AD/HD, his upbringing is operating against him. His parents both have AD/HD, and they came to believe that employees don't have the right to ever speak up when they're placed in an intolerable situation—that being assertive means in-your-face nastiness, so it's best not to speak up at all. That is, they mistakenly think that assertiveness means aggression. And that's par for the course with AD/HDers; they see no gray but only black and white.

Ed has been slowly unlearning this, but he's not done yet. He will have to retrain his boss to think of him as a human being who needs rest and has family duties, and that will be a long haul, because Ed's worked there 13 years, just as long as we've been married. None of the other employees' wives have jobs, much less their own business like I do, so Ed is an oddity among his cabinetmaker peers in that he is expected to share family duties equally with his wife. This has never been a problem for Ed, but it is foreign to the culture at his job, so he may encounter resistance because of this when he starts to change his behavior.

Going on Ed's past history with learning new behaviors, I predict it will take him a few false starts before he gets this one down. I've often said, exasperatedly, to him that it must be a requirement for being a cabinetmaker that one have no concept of time. A dear friend of mine is also married to a cabinetmaker—and both she and he have AD/HD—and they both agree that he operates on what they call "glacial time."


Saturday, July 15, 2006

AD/HD: A Day in the Life

Time management is an issue that affects lots of two-career households, including those with freelancers like me.

My workday runs from about 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, with lots of breaks for child care. My husband and I have three children; the 11-year-old and 4-year-old are still at home (the 23-year-old's on her own), and I am responsible for their care during the workday—on top of working in my home office—until my husband gets home, because paying for child care would take a big chunk out of our income. My husband's job is a hour's commute away, but that's if he's driving over the speed limit.

Our arrangement, since our 11-year-old's birth, has been that when my husband, Ed, arrives home from work, he is completely responsible for child care and for making dinner; he's also responsible for the bulk of child care on weekends. (I got more satisfaction from this when the boys were very young because Ed did all the diaper-changing when he was home.)

Someone once asked if this was fair to Ed. Hell yes, it is. He may work hard, but when he's working, he's doing only one job. I, however, am doing two jobs—editing and child care—when I'm working. Our arrangement helps me recuperate from having to be on duty with the kids (in the summertime, at least) all day long, and it gives my husband plenty of time to bond with the boys. He's always been fine with this arrangement; I didn't have to push him into it.

Our fights usually have to do with Ed's lack of a sense of time, which is related to his attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD). He's a foreman for a small cabinetmaking firm—and I do mean small; there are fewer than 10 employees, even counting the owner—so it's not as if he has the weight of a huge company on his shoulders. His workday is supposed to be 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. But things come up near the end of the workday, and instead of his quickly planning out how they will be handled the next day, he's taken to handling them immediately, thinking that they won't take long at all. But of course, they always take a long time. So he leaves work at 5:00 p.m. (tolerable), 5:30, 6:30 ... last night he left at 7:00 p.m. and was home after 8:00 p.m. His boss doesn't require him to work late all the time. And it's not as if he's an emergency department surgeon who faces unexpected operations at the end of his shift to save people's lives.

This problem with gauging time means that (1) I am responsible for the kids for a much longer time than I'm supposed to be, under our agreement, and (2) no one knows when dinner will be, which makes the kids and me crabby. That means I have to stop working at 7:00, when I usually do, but dinner's not ready and the kids are hungry, so I have to make dinner. By the time we eat, it's time for the kids to get baths before going to bed, and they're whining, "When will Daddy get home?!"

Ed promises over and over to leave work on time—unless there's an emergency, and that, I would understand—but lately, he never manages to. Everyone's schedules are thrown off, I'm angry, the kids are whiny, and he's not happy because I'm angry.

I know that these are the kinds of issues that both parties must talk out—honestly, at length, and without the kids around. They should set aside some time to talk, making it official by getting a babysitter. They should talk about the feelings that are behind the actions, have empathy for each other.

I should go do that, but it's hard to feel like bothering, because I've told Ed many times exactly what I think about what feels like his lack of respect for my time. And each time, he says he knows he should pay attention to the clock and just leave work at 4:30. But then he doesn't. He even did this all throughout this week, when we had a vacation from the boys and could have more time together. It's gotten to the point that I don't believe his promises. And that situation is so typical of life with an AD/HDer.

I don't know how this issue will be resolved, given that with Ed, poor time management skills are one of his handicaps and not a lack of respect. We'll see.



Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What's "Working Full Time" for a Freelance Editor?

What does "working full time" mean to you as an employee? As a freelancer or consultant?

To me, as a freelance copyeditor, it means that my workweek ranges from 25 to 40 hours, but then most of my work is substantive editing (heavy copyediting), ESL editing (smoothing the nonstandard English of authors who aren't native speakers of English), medical editing, or ESL medical editing, rather than straight copyediting, so it isn't speedy enough to allow me to zip through it and work fewer hours. After 22 years in publishing, 11 of them as a freelancer, I do charge healthy rates (hourly, page, or project, depending on the client and the project), so you'd think I could get by with fewer hours and still meet my living expenses. But my husband and I

  • Live on expensive Long Island (New York State)

  • Own a home, a dinky, no-closet-space, 1,400-square-foot place that is vastly overvalued in an overheated housing market

  • Have three children. We're paying the lion's share of our daughter's costs for her impending August 6 wedding. We also paid a good portion of her undergrad tuition within the last 5 years; she's paying postgrad tuition herself now because she's been financially independent for just over a year. Then there was private preschool tuition this year for our youngest; our school district doesn't yet offer preschool.

  • Have his parents (ages 70 and 71) living in our home. Though they pay us a token rent, they're on a fixed income, so we cover a lot of the expenses that they'd have to cover if they lived in an apartment somewhere else.

  • Pay full monthly health insurance premiums (about $750/month) by weekly deductions from my husband's weekly paychecks. The firm he works for is so microscopic that it can't afford to pitch in for any employee's coverage. But for years, our insurance came through my company, and we paid those premiums in full ourselves.

Though my cabinetmaker foreman husband commands healthy hourly wages, his income alone couldn't anywhere near cover all of that by itself. Before he was given a substantial raise a couple of years ago, my annual gross income was pretty close to his. You betcha I'm competitive enough to be working at increasing my gross income to match his again. ;-)

Individual life circumstances are going to affect what's full time for any particular freelancer. What's full time for you, and why?

full time

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Vacation from Parenting

Still in loveMy husband and I are getting a parenting break this week. Even though we’re both still working, it feels as if we're on vacation.

My in-laws have taken our 4-year-old and 11-year-old sons camping locally for the week. We'd forgotten what uninterrupted conversation was like. And I'd forgotten how I can drown in my husband's eyes. We rarely get the chance to just sit and stare at each other when the boys are around. Damn, even doing lawn care together during the weekend was fun—and we've been married 13 years! Now I'm wishing we had other nearby relatives who'd let the boys spend a few days with them during the summer. I could really get used to having more than an occasional evening alone with my guy.


Friday, July 07, 2006

Calling All Bibliophiles

Have a look at LibraryThing, where you can, for no fee, catalog up to 200 of the books you own or have read. (If you want to catalog more than 200, you pay either $10 a year or $25 for life.) You can make your list private or public; you can post book reviews; you can tag your books; you can use one of the little JavaScript extras to automatically post to your blog a partial list, with miniature pictures of book covers, of books you've read; you can find other people who've read the books you've read; you can find lists of all the good books others have read but you haven't yet ...

A June 27 article in the Wall Street Journal called LibraryThing "social networking for bookworms." Whatever it is, it makes my little editor's heart very happy.

publishing book author writing writer

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Rise of Religious Bigots in America

Seems to me that American religious bigots are increasing in number—or are at least being more upfront than they have been in decades.

Take, for example, the story of the Delaware school district that insists on praying "in Jesus' name" at school board meetings, despite a Jewish family's request for a more inclusive "in God's name." The aggression of the Protestant religious right in shoving its beliefs down everyone's throat frightens me and makes me ashamed to be a Christian. I don't want everyone thinking that all Christians act like these bigots.

My beliefs match those summarized by the Christian Alliance for Progress:
  • Compassion and care for "the least of these": We follow Jesus' call to compassion and his command to "love your neighbor as you love yourself."

  • Responsibility and obligation: We heed the call to take up our cross—to transform our lives, but also to do more: to move beyond the "personal" and to take responsibility in our communities and country.

  • Justice for all: We stand against powerful systems of human injustice in our world, as Jesus stood against them in his.

  • Equality and inclusiveness: Like Jesus did among women, tax collectors, Samaritans, and others, we reject hurtful exclusionary distinctions between "us" and "them."

  • Faithful stewardship: We follow Jesus' call for responsible stewardship—caring protection for the environment and sharing of our worldly treasure.

  • Right use of power: We turn away from fear; we use the power of God that flows through us to protect the innocent and build justice in the world, not to coerce others to our will or force others to accept our vision.

  • Spiritual foundation: We turn to God as our spiritual foundation.

What this means, among other things, is that I don't feel the need to press my religious beliefs on anyone.

I'm quite familiar with extreme Christians, so my abhorrence of religious bigots comes from experience. I was raised as a Southern Baptist to believe that men are leaders and women are not, to believe that being gay is a sin, and to go out and talk other people into believing the same things. As a young adult, I was so turned off by Baptist beliefs and the Baptist attitude that being human is bad that I avoided all religion for almost 15 years. I then spent about 10 years as a Presbyterian. Now I'm again reevaluating my spirituality, tired of the anti-gay stance of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Whatever your religion, there is no reason to force it on other people. Doing so devalues the concept of free will and the worth of each human being, tenets held by most major religions but apparently forgotten by today's bigots.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Keep Out of North Korea

Buy "Keep Out of North Korea" merchandise. Design copyright © 2006 by Katharine O'Moore-Klopf.George Bush just doesn't know when to stop. North Korea, whose nuclear weapons are apparently rather ineffective, is the next nation Bush wants to invade. But hell, the U.S. has nuclear weapons too. Why do we have more of a right than other nations to have WMD? You do realize that if the U.S. invades North Korea it'll be World War III, don't you? It's time for new EditorMom protest items: T-shirts, tote bags, stickers, lapel buttons, coffee mugs, and more.

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