“Y” I’m Not Happy One of My Fave Co-Workers is Leaving

Jason Mollica was mostly kidding (I think) when he tweeted this last week:

Jason’s tweet was a follow-up to my comments about my coworker Niki Pocock’s blog post about leaving her position at Healthy Kids, where we have been coworkers for almost a year. 

I had commented to Jason and Niki, that I was “bitter” about Niki’s departure.  This led to Jason’s suggestion.

I need something to blog about tonight, so even if you were kidding, Jason, here it is!

Here are three things that I am taking away from my relationship with Niki, one in which a frequent topic of discussion was “Gen Y” in comparison to Baby Boomers and other generational issues.  I should mention that when she started working at Healthy Kids last year, one of the first things I did was to see if she had a blog (isn’t that what we all do?!).  It was a good sign that she did and that I really liked her writing style.  This was a very good omen! 

Social Media 101+

When Niki and I met, I was an avid Facebooker and blogger.  I had a Twitter account but I really did not use it much.  Niki helped me understand how to more effectively integrate my presence on social media outlets, how to utilize analytics (still learning on that one), and how businesses and organizations can better respond to customers who expect to be able to engage via social media.  I learned to speak more knowledgeably about hashmarks, retweets, and the most enjoyable part of Twitter:  meeting people through Tweetups!  Here we are at the August Tallahassee Tweetup:

(Photo Credit Adrienne Bryant)

Hierarchy Isn’t Everything

I have worked at my employer for 16 years.  In that time, the org chart has had all kinds of expansions and contractions, but in general it has always been clear what the official pecking order is (as well as the unofficial).  As I observed Niki navigate relationships with co-workers, I became aware that there are times I have stopped advocating for particular positions, resources, or changes based on not feeling like “fighting that hard,” or by assuming that because a superior held a particular position and professed to intend to keep that position, I should keep quiet if I saw a potential downside that could affect our enrollees because it just wasn’t worth it personally to rock the boat.  Niki had a fresh perspective — if someone did not comply with a deadline for a project that required input from several different parties, she was quicker to advise that co-worker that their project may have lost some priority as she moved on to other obligations.  She didn’t question her right to expect timely cooperation. 

Say It – Now!

A couple of times, I chuckled after Niki and I would have a conversation, and the topic would appear in her blog within hours.  My approach to my blog is very deliberate.  I think about the topic throughout the week, collect any images that may be appropriate, debate how to word specific phrases, etc.  Case in point — when Healthy Kids was asked by one of our payment vendors to permit “pay by text” (in which the enrollee gets a text message saying “your payment is due” and can press “1” to pay, etc.), Niki and I had a conversation about this.  I mentioned that I might blog about it “someday.”  She blogged about it by the end of the day. The reminder for me is that my message does no good if it is still in my head as I dissect the perfect wording.  If I take the leap of going ahead and writing what I have to say, I may be surprised what interactions await me.

Jason suggested my post be “Why I’m Not Happy.”  I am happy for Niki – her new position at the Florida Department of Education gives her fantastic new growth opportunities and, fortunately, will keep her in touch with Healthy Kids and KidCare.  I am disappointed, personally, to lose the day-to-day contact with my friend and fellow social-media fanatic.

The good news is she is only a tweet away! 

Burgeoning Baby Ballet Bucks

My friend and coworker, Niki Pocock, was a dancer from the time she was a little girl.  Since she has a young daughter, our conversation often turns to our daughters.  Her toddler is just starting to test the waters of children’s activities; my teenager has been through dance, soccer, gymnastics, cheerleading, a few I have probably forgotten (but definitely paid for) and is now back at dance.  Her daughter is “little,” mine is “big,” but Niki and I both share big dreams for our children to find some path that brings them joy.

I appreciate Niki’s guest post, in which she shares her experiences thus far in the world of children’s activities (and parents’ pocketbooks).  Niki blogs at It’s All Wrong and you can find her on Twitter here: @NikiPocock.

My daughter is only 22 months old, but her extra-curricular classes already have put a dent in my wallet.

Now that I think about it, it started before she was born. My husband and I took the necessary childbirth class for $160 that at the end was unanimously voted as pointless (although I did meet a BFF there – we had baby girls within weeks of each other). If I heard that instructor talk about “normal” childbirth one more time I was going to strangle her. I was getting an epidural. No question about it. Back off, lady! Oh, and I just about passed out when I saw the video of a woman giving birth (I would later find out that my new BFF’s husband was having a great laugh at my progressively whiter complexion as the video went on).

Then there was the breastfeeding class (this one was actually helpful), and the breastfeeding support group (also helpful, as I walked in with tears in my eyes because it hurt so much. I survived and nursed my daughter for a full year – mostly because of the support from these women).

All of it? $$$$$ – Lots of it.

My daughter’s first class after birth was a Mommy and Me ballet class. This was a bit nostalgic for me because I danced ballet for 20+ years, including seven years performing with a company. The place she took her lessons was the same place I spent the majority of my dance life. But at $70 for just a summer semester (About $140 for the fall semester, PLUS a $50 costume AND recital tickets – not sure if that is going to happen), it hurt a bit. Oh, and then you have to get a leotard, tights and shoes (Did you know Payless has a line of American Ballet Theatre dance shoes? $17 vs. $30 at the local ballet boutique. I’m sold!)

And now we want to put her in swimming lessons. The local city pool offers $22 and $45 classes. Not bad, but that is just for a few weeks. We are thinking of putting her in a music class, but there is another $140 per semester, not including instruments and “take-home materials.” Do these people think we are made of money??? Aren’t we in a recession?

When you plan to have a child, you know about all the expenses that come with a baby. The hospital room, the crib, the clothes, etc., but hand-me-downs and baby showers work wonders. Even as my child grew I was set because my parents are in town and buy her everything under the sun (including aforementioned ballet leotard, tights and shoes). But what about these classes???

I hereby publicly thank my parents for paying for 20+ years of ballet classes (and pointe shoes at $60-80 a pop) and for attending all of my performances. My dad encouraged me to quit on numerous occasions; after all, I wasn’t going to dance the rest of my life. But the discipline and drive that I learned during my dance years has shaped more of my personality today than anything else my parents did.

The benefits set aside, I can tell you that my daughter had better be the best kid in the world if she expects her non-outdoorsy mother to sit in the hot summer sun while she plays soccer, softball and who knows what else – all on my dime.

Who has time to save for college when you are paying an arm and a leg right now? How do parents deal with all the expenses of money and time? I know I am not the first to experience this sticker shock, but geez, this has been quite an eye-opener!
Paula here — I know a lot of you readers have experience with years of children’s activities (and the related impact on the family bottom line); please share any comments/guidance you have!  And I will look forward to running into you next week!

When the going gets though, the though get going.

Some people sing with the voices of angels.  Some people run long distances quickly.  Some people coach athletic teams to win, season after season.  Me, I see typos.  As several of my previous Wordless Wednesday posts attest, many letters are being written on objects that do not move while perfectly good letter-writing paper goes unused.  Thank goodness Mrs. Bowen, my sixth grade teacher, gave us students the hint that “stationary” has an “a” in its last three letters to remind us of an “anchor,” something that remains still.  “Stationery,” on the other hand, is used for writing letters. 

My nickname at Healthy Kids has been “The Big Green Pen” for many years now.  Because I use a green felt-tip pen when I edit letters, and because I am, to put it mildly, generous with the green ink, the nickname is permanent and has become my identity on Twitter (@biggreenpen) and among my proofreading/copyediting clients. 

There are a few of us at the office who enjoy language, and appreciate language used with precision and care.  Therefore, when I see something egregious (like the recent “Flordia”), I send out a quick email with a “Big Green Pen Challenge.”  When my coworker, Niki Pocock, participated in the most recent “Big Green Pen Challenge,” she included in her response a link to a blog by Bob Gabordi, Executive Editor of the Tallahassee Democrat, in which  Bob discusses why answering his phone is always an adventure.  As part of his blog, when he refers to a caller who questioned whether the Democrat still utilizes proofreaders, he wrote:

Losing those people huddled in the back proofreading pages was part of the price we paid for technology. These days, newspaper pages go straight from the newsroom’s computers to metal plates that go on the press. Fewer eyes are looking for typos and minor grammar flaws.

Between my initial reading (on Friday) of Bob’s blog and logging on to http://www.tallahassee.com/ this morning, two typos jumped off the page (first case) and screen (second case).  It was time to e-mail Bob.

In my e-mail, I expressed my hope that there can be some happy medium between those non-existent “back of the room” proofreaders and “a journalistic organization resigning itself to an attitude of “we’ll catch what we can, but errors happen.” 

I pointed out the on-line lead for the well-done “print exclusive” article about the fiscal difficulties faced by the LeMoyne Center for the Visual Arts.  The text stated:

The recession has been particularly though on the
LeMoyne Center for the Visual Arts, a Tallahassee
nonprofit that’s been around for 47 years.

I also pointed out that the header to a very informative article in yesterday’s Democrat, which described how to prepare for the sport of triathlon, was titled this way:

Break in new gear as part of pre-race preperation. 
Arguably, neither of these errors did any damage.  The recession is still hitting Lemoyne; athletes still need to break in their gear to get ready for triathlons. 
I once proofread a friend’s resume.  I’m pretty sure the friend’s career might have gone a whole different direction if the friend’s original representation of her “Master’s in Public Administration” had not had its “L” in “Public” replaced before distribution. 
For examples of typos that have done more than annoy, visit Eye for Ink’s Typo of the Month page.  You can even subscribe to receive a new “particularly embarrassing or expensive” typo every month (if you can stand it!). 
When my new smartphone started anticipating my words for me, so that, for example, I could start typing “let’s get lu….” and the phone would pop up with the options of “lunch” or “lucky,” I started tuning in to the types of technology that have become an expectation of my 10- and 13- year old children.  There is very little thinking involved; your message can be composed and sent in a flash. 
But getting “lunch” and getting “lucky” are different.  I imagine there are many people out there I might want to have lunch with, but only one I plan to get lucky with!
In the final paragraph of my email to Bob, I said, “However, if we parents do manage to get our kids to read the newspaper (one can always hope) or if a teacher requires students to read an article in the newspaper for a class-related assignment, I think it is important that the writers/publishers have made every effort to show that they care about the “small considerations” of spelling and grammar in addition to the “big considerations” of what they have to say.”
Bob responded within two hours of my original e-mail.  His response e-mail, in which he assured me that typos “drive me utterly insane” (yay! a kindred spirit), he also pointed out that the “online editing process is different … than the print process.”  He discussed the “nature of writing and editing so quickly for the 24-7 news cycle” and commented that, “such errors have always been a problem for newspapers.”  Bob said that, “Newspapers have long been called the first draft of history ……. Now, with the Web, perhaps print is the second draft.  But in either case, we have never faced more intense deadline pressure than now and I would not be surprised if our typo-error rate is not higher than in previous generations.” 
In closing, Bob wrote, “there is anything but a casual attitude or reaction to such errors in our newsroom.  If I gave that impression, it is a false one.” 
I really appreciate the e-mail exchange I shared with Bob, and the articulate, explanatory nature of his response.
Writing, proofreading, and editing have always been a big part of my life.  Sometimes it has been professionally compensated; other times it has been on behalf of a cause that I love.  When I left the Holy Comforter book club tonight, thinking about next month’s book, Half the Sky, it occurred to me that quibbling over “it’s/its, heel/heal, peek/peak, and other grammatical no-no’s,” while important to preserving the integrity of the written word, is a true luxury compared to the life and death struggles the women featured in the book face from the moment they are born. 
To tell the story of the women featured in “Half the Sky,” though, and other stories meant to inform, convince, and reassure, requires attention to language and detail.  It is that attention to detail and drive to be accurate that I seek to keep alive by protecting the way in which language is used. 
Maybe I’ll “get lucky” and this blog won’t have any errors.  Anyone want to “get lunch” and calmly discuss?