The past couple of days have been busy. I worked 6:30 AM till whenever at work then came home, worked on homework for a little while, got ready, and went out to dinner with friends. That was very nice and I was very sleepy by the time we got home. K & K stopped by for a quick visit, and I promptly fell asleep with my head on D’s shoulder. Got up yesterday and worked on a nasty financial exercise for my parents, our friends from VA Beach came over and visited and while they went to dinner at Comfort D and I went to an old friend of mine’s wedding. My ex boss was the DJ, but the exchange was not as unpleasant as my employment’s end would have dictated. I guess sometimes time does heal all wounds, except in the case of the bride, with whom I have a complicated past. I thought by going to the wedding it would show a “we’ve both got our shit together and are no longer dysfunctional drunks. You are married with a child, I am married with a cat, we are equals as far as formerly-dysfunctional drunks go, and I wish you the very best” kind of solidarity. Instead the exchange was indeed more awkward that the conversation with my ex-boss whom I quitted with profanity after some very explosive arguing (I maintain it was mostly his fault). This conversation was lovely and nurturing compared to the awkward exchange with Das Bride. She looked lovely, and I’m glad she is happy. I’ll leave it at that, rather than speculate on the “unfinished business” she said she had with me.

We came home to find that our VA Beach friends had locked the knob on the den door on their way out. Bummer. They have one key to the front door knobs and deadbolt. My parents have the other. Therefore neither D or I have a front door key. The front door is the only door in the house that has one key that operates both the knob and the deadbolt. The other two doors (both in the den) are flip-flopped. That is, the key that fits the knob on the front den door also works the deadbolt on the back den door, while the key that works the knob on the back den door works the deadbolt on the front den door. The latter key is the key that both D and I use to get into the den, and therefore we never lock the den front door knob, as we don’t have a key for it (K & K have that one). Complicated. Frustrating. And so there we were after sweating and getting eaten by bugs at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, dressed in a dress and tie (me and him, respectively) and we were locked out of our house.

Luckily it didn’t take long for our guests to get here, and I fell asleep promptly after eating many Totino’s Pizza Rolls and watching reruns of the Dog Whisperer.

Today I’m going to tutor my dad in the basics of Microsoft Office, then we’re having barbeque with Mom, Dad, Aunt, and Uncle as a Labor Day celebration. All this and I have the following to complete before Tuesday:

1. Read all of The Pilgrim’s Progress and read the online discussion topics posted by fellow students in order to form thoughts for discussion on Wednesday (ENG 415)
2. Read “The Thought Fox” by Ted Hughes and “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath, pick one and write a well-formed opinion on for class on Tuesday (ENG 301)
3. Start memorizing “The Windhover” for my oral recitation of it on Sept. 16 (ENG 301)
4. Create a resume for the class’s critique (ENG 303)

I truly meant to take picture of the dapperness that was me and D yesterday, but it was hot and I was troubled by the awkwardness, so just imagine a green shirt and tie and a brown polka-dotted number and you’ll get the picture.

Off to prepare for tutuoring and read an article on blogging that JB sent me.

Tough Week – But here is the good stuff

  • A misunderstanding regarding my side gig was resolved and I’m back to list-making
  • Classes are awesome and I like all my professors
  • I feel smarter already
  • The produce guy gave me free fruit on Monday
  • My husband cooks spaghetti and comforts me when I cry
  • My mom is supportive and talks to me the whole way home from school
  • I’m relatively healthy
  • I’ve gotten mostly rave reviews on my new ‘do.

school’s in session

I’ll write more about my other classes soon, but for now here is the free writing assignment I turned in for the “about me and my writing experience” for my business writing class:

My name is Elizabeth Downing…
and I’m an English Major

My first “real job” was at a promotional marketing firm that specialized in “swag”. Logoed items and apparel were the products we dealt in most, so aside from the usual business emails and communications that go along with any job, I also wrote descriptions of our logoed offerings for different clients’ brand websites and company stores. To entertain one of my co-workers, I would write at least three J Peterman-style descriptions of mundane plastic, screenprinted objects and other promotional items. To entertain myself, I will give you an example:

“After a week on the rain-swept streets of Paris, Captain John’s luggage turned up in a seedy wine bar. Over the bawdy singing of one slightly intoxicated, just-past-her prime cabaret performer, the Good Captain struggled with his broken French to obtain his meager parcel. Finally, after many glasses of mid-grade Merlo, he spotted it – a handsome imitation leather briefcase with his company’s logo (nay, the masthead!) tastefully embossed over the mP3 pouch. Even though he was miles from home, in that moment Captain John was no longer lonely.”

After 4 years of being underpaid and grossly underappreciated, and weary from working a side job to supplement my income, I started applying for jobs elsewhere. Because it took me that long to realize that it was possible to get a job somewhere else. Life is about options, after all.

I landed a job as an administrative assistant to an EVP at my current company. At first the writing required for this position was minimal – emails, the occasional event invitation, etc.

It is important to interject here that as a younger woman I was quite prolific. Not good, mind you, but I wrote often. It tapered off, as youthful obsessions often do, and email writing was OK with me. I even blogged now and again, but I wasn’t writing every day.

Back to the new job. It didn’t take very long for me to figure out that my boss was, without a doubt, the most frustrating and difficult man in the universe. He was infuriating. He was a know-it-all. I made it my personal mission to share my pain with all 500 of my myspace friends. Little did I know at the time that he would be solely responsible for the majority of my work ethic and professional development, and that I would miss him a bunch when he left the company. Hindsight and all that…

A word about blogging about work, from work. DON’T. On February 8, 2006 I came into the office and my boss was particularly chilly and snippy to me. I asked him how his weekend was. “Not very good”, he replied.

“Why not?”

“I had an integrity issue with one of my employees”

“Really? Who”


I could not, for the life of me, figure out what he was talking about. Then I saw it, on his desk, highlighted and underlined with things circled in red pen. My myspace blog. My entire myspace page, in fact, there on his desk with notes in the margin. He was angry. He threatened to fire me. He told me he couldn’t believe that I would write such things about him.

I said, in a very tiny voice, “but it was all true”. I was sure I was a goner. I went and erased every single blog that ever pertained to him. I went back into his office ready to beg for my job. After all, he was a big jerk sometimes, but the pay was nice and the benefits were outstanding. Lucky for me, reason overcame shame and shock. He didn’t fire me. We slowly got over it.

Lesson learned, and magically myspace was no longer accessible from work. After some time he left the company and I was adopted by the Corporate Communications department, where I write human interest stories for the intranet, a weekly newsletter for the Richmond-area employees, and the occasional article for company-wide publications.

I guess it’s a muscle-memory kind of thing, because I’ve been doing a lot more writing personally because of all this. I maintain a blog, have just started another (but I won’t tell you what it’s about because I’m afraid you’ll laugh at me) and I write lists for a top ten website…that pays me real money.

I’m taking this class to improve my skills, get some feedback from you, and strengthen my ability for business writing, because that will prove valuable for my company. Also, I would like to avoid disciplinary action in the future, as the blog incident wasn’t the last time I got in trouble. But that’s another story for another time.

I hope this was not an assignment that will turn out to take merit away for:

a conversational tone
the use of contractions
the use of ellipses, quotation marks when a quotation isn’t occurring, and etc.

I’m a 31 year-old senior who is back after a 7-year hiatus. I’m doing much better this time around, thank you. I discovered that you take your studies a lot more seriously when you have to pay for them yourself. I’m married, no kids, but with a very demanding cat. I’m enthusiastic, a hard worker, and I have a completely inappropriate sense of humor. I look forward to working with you and learning from you.