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True Confessions

I’ll be honest with you. I’m having a hard time motivating myself these days.

Take writing this blog. I’m in the middle of a 30-day blog challenge and I have plenty of time to think of ideas and write something original every day. And yet, I struggle with what to say and hitting “publish” after my seventh draft feels like I’m giving in and saying – this is good enough.

I’m also having trouble working from home. I’m in a new role that no longer places me where I like to be – in the middle of it all. And without having my colleagues nearby, it is difficult to feel connected.

And worst of all, I’m not into celebrating Passover. This comes as a shock to me because I’m the one who typically leads the Seder and buys enough matzah and kosher for Passover food for everyone. Not to say that we didn’t mark the occasion. Thanks to the 11th plague of coronavirus, we had a perfectly lovely family seder last night via Zoom, but I left the meeting a little sad. Social distancing from loved ones is hard enough and seeing their smiling faces on a screen can’t compete with having them here in my home.

My husband and kids are making the best of it with their work and school schedules. They are busy enough to keep the days somewhat interesting. I wish I could say the same. My recent accomplishments include clean cupboards, folded laundry (and put away), and finishing the third season of The Amazing Mrs. Maisel. I’m safely snuggled into my comfort zone reading books and drinking coffee. My dog is much more attached to me than ever before, and the feeling is mutual.

Part of this funk I’m in likely has to do with the fact that I’m getting over a nasty cough. Illness is a major trigger for my anxiety which also plays into my current mood. Thankfully, I never had a fever or breathing issues and was never sick enough to require testing. The antibiotics are finally kicking in, but they wear me out.

I know one morning I will wake up full of energy, feel like myself again and snap out of it–and the sooner the better. All I have is time on my hands.

My Online Stalker

Today’s story begins with $300 burning a hole in my professional development pocket. I never miss a chance to use what I consider to be free money to register for a class and enhance my knowledge for my career.

Unfortunately, this amount of money is barely enough for one class, let alone an entire out-of-state conference. But one day I dared to dream. I found the ACES conference — the American Copy Editors Society–which looks like a writer’s paradise. Three days of learning and feeding my inner (and outer) grammar nerd.

The conference was at a Hilton in Salt Lake City, and I live in Philadelphia making it impossible for me to attend without using my own money. But, I checked out the venue anyway–and that is when the stalking began.

My Facebook feed filled up with Hilton ads. The top ad on was for Hilton. The ad banner on the CNN website was for — you guessed it — Hilton.

Hilton Garden Inn
Hampton Inn
Doubletree Suites by Hilton

Not only am I not going to this conference, but my little jaunt into professional development fantasy land resulted in a cyber-stalker.

I felt violated – like I was being watched, but no one was around. With the simple click of my mouse, Hilton began to follow me.

It’s like this for everything online these days. Wherever our minds and mouses take us, there is not someone, but something, lurking behind it. I can’t look up my favorite slow cooker bbq turkey cutlet recipe without being bombarded by ads for McCormick, Jennie-O and Shady Brook Farms. Even worse, I accidentally clicked on the wrong SkinnyTaste recipe which triggered ads for WW, Hungry Girl and the like. And if I was in the market for a new crockpot, I’m sure those companies are waiting for their big moment.

Google is revolutionary. My kids will never have to see the inside of a dusty card catalog when they can find the latest research at their fingertips. But when we use Google, we all pay a price.

We are being watched.




The One with the Voice Mails

You have six messages. Beep.

Three of those messages are hangups. One is a robocall from an elected official. Two are doctor appointment reminders–one from my son’s orthodontist and another from the sleep doctor.

I suspect it can’t be a fun job to call a few dozen people and leave these messages. I imagine it is a tedious but necessary task. Funny enough, the two voicemails could not have been more different, and it’s all about a positive attitude and a moment of kindness.

To compare, the first message was from Nicole from the orthodontist.

Hello. This message is for Andrew to remind you that you have an appointment with the orthodontist at 8 am in our Ambler office. Thank you. Click.

While it was professional, her monotone voice did not seem to recognize Andrew as a valued patient who has been going there for the last three years. She also left the message at warp speed. I had to replay the message twice to confirm the time and the location.

Then, Bonnie from the sleep clinic called. Her singsong voice was friendly, patient, and coming from someone who loves what she does every day for a living.

The message started fairly routine. Bonnie reminded me of my appointment and to bring my C-Pap machine chip if I have one (I do not–yet). She added that the garage I would typically use is closed for repairs, and I would need to valet park or go to one of the other lots. “And bring your parking ticket with you so we can validate it for free parking.


But Bonnie didn’t stop there. She noticed I was a new patient and took the time to tell me exactly where to park complete with the street names and a landmark (across the street from the police station). She told me which building the office is in and spelled the name of the building. She advised me of the most convenient hospital entrance to use to find the office and to please come earlier than usual to fill out some paperwork.

Now, I’ve been going to this hospital for years. I delivered both of my children there. I’ve visited the emergency room a few times, as well as doctors’ offices. It is still quite the maze to me, and I’ve come to expect that when I go there, I will indeed get lost.

But I don’t have to worry about that now. Bonnie eased all of my concerns without my ever asking. Not only did she give me vital information, but her tone of voice struck me–as if I was a friend or a daughter–not a patient.

In this crazy world, it’s this sort of kindness that I crave. I’ve never been to a sleep clinic before, and I don’t know what to expect. However, I do know Bonnie will be there to welcome me.

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