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Friday, March 27, 2020

Article Archive: Writing about People in Need, People in Pain

I worked as a writer in the offices of Catholic Charities on First Avenue between 55th and 56th Streets from October 21 until December 20 and then about once a week after that, writing articles for the website through January and into February.

I loved working in my New York City again...not just the glittery city, but the hardworking city, alongside the friendly New Yorkers who serve coffee and rolls from corner carts and the ones in French uniforms with neckerchiefs who sell brightly colored macarons in a chic cafe.

I loved being among them, one and all. I liked riding the E train from the Port Authority to 53rd Street and Lexington Avenue.--noticing eye shadow colors women wore, subway ads for mattresses and men's underwear. The fun faux fur coats, boots and totes people sported. The tourists and lovers. My guessing game--telling in a blink who was wealthy and who was not.

I liked riding the bus to and from Montclair. I liked pushing the elevator button to my floor at work. I was tired at night, but I went to bed early and got up about 6:10 am.

After many years as a freelancer, I was part of a team in an office again. And it reminded me that I thrive as part of a team, and still want that.

I liked belonging. Being professional and supportive. Working together on a raft of 5 smart people in a sea of words, to end up with the best possible product.

I hoped to join the team permanently. The work was meaningful. The organization's reach is remarkable, from helping feed the hungry to supporting immigrants. It seemed I was going to be hired--that was alluded to many times--but then, after a 6-month budget review, I was told that the writer position would be restructured and would not be filled at that time.

I was sad and I mourned this loss, like the huge blow it was. My heart sunk down to my Tory Burch pumps.

I am still grateful, of course, to our friend Celia, who heard about the need for a writer and told me right away. I earned money to pay for our family health insurance, heating oil, mortgage, phone bill, groceries and many other necessities. I earned money for Punch to join Dan on his work trip to San Francisco. I bought a knee-length winter coat after many years of jackets.

I am thankful for my smart and funny co-workers.

I also found some style wins in our Sutton Place neighborhood, brands I didn't know. Clean Market, where I got my trendy Keep Cup and met Goop products up close. I discovered the pretty pink Sweet Laurel cookbook and even the California bake shop's chocolate cake mix and special take on vanilla extract [made with tequila]. I found delicious New York pizza on First Avenue--perfect Mama's red sauce, melty cheese. I got to know some shops in Grand Central Terminal--Vineyard Vines, the food market, Warby Parker.

I got to know others at work, not just on my team but in other departments, too. Almost to a person, they were kind and cheerful. Smart. Talented. I loved working with the two twenty-something people on our marketing team. I liked the clergy members in our midst, too.

I liked pitching ideas. I'm good at pitching ideas. I'm good at my craft of writing and editing, and getting along with people, putting them at ease, connecting with them.

I have empathy, important when talking to people in need, and writing their stories.

From October to December, I wrote pitches for The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund campaign, an annual and venerable effort that helps many New Yorkers. It runs in the newspaper and online from November into January. I worked on a team, primarily with my manager, researching and writing/rewriting pitches that we submitted to the NY Times team. They were getting pitches from several charitable organizations, so our goal was to send in compelling stories.--and get help for clients of Catholic Charities.

To be honest, by the time I left, the tide had changed. 

As I move on and trust that another door will open, I want to put links to some of my Catholic Charities writing here. I am also moving on to my essay assignment for another client.

NY TIMES NEEDIEST CASES FUND [We wrote the story pitches; NY Times reporters followed up with the clients and wrote the published articles.]





Must move on to essay. Thank you for being there.

I Call a Do-over

No fair. I should be happy--Dan's pay finally came through to our bank account. That is a relief. Looming bills for mortgage, health insurance, heating oil--and our monthly IRS payment, automatically withdrawn every month.

But I was a nasty witch instead. As we know, money does not equate with happiness. But it does equate with a sigh of relief.

The day started late again. We have one bathroom. I was soaking my CPAP machine equipment in the sink, in hot water and shampoo, as the pulmonologist said.

Figgy needed the bathroom. I told her she had to wait. She said she needed the bathroom. I told her I had to let the tubing and mask soak for another minute. And so on.

Punch had some ants in her straw and freaked out. I freaked out at her. She spat on the floor and I screamed at her to clean it with Chlorox spray. She knocked the bottle down to the floor.

Then, for good measure, I screamed at Dan, too. First, he got mean to Punch because she was [again] looking at/touching the big bruise I got when I fell the other day. She meant well. But I asked her not to lift my nightie and look.

Then Sugar growled at Dan. Then Dan comforted Punch, listened to every word of the ant tragedy, and talked kindly to Figgy.

Meanwhile, I muttered, cursed and yelled loud enough so they all could hear me from the living room.

Now Dan is going to ShopRite again, because it is near the bank. We should only go once a week to the store because of the virus. Right? Some of my neighbors don't go at all, just shop online. Some go too often--for milk, etc. etc.

Sometimes, this new life feels like a s--- show. Really. I can't allow myself to think about the big picture It is just crazy. I am doing an online therapy appt this afternoon.

I am usually an optimist but this is a tough one.

I am going to shop online. I just got an $80 refund on my debit card for P's Learn to Skate lessons. How sad is that.

Sending love.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Scared, good night 

Numbers keep climbing, NJ right after NY.  Bed is my safest place to be once the sun dips. Thank God Figgy and Punch get along so well as we hunker down. They germinated seeds tonite.

Good night.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Luxury Facial

Miss Punch just gave me elaborate treatment. So pampering. Good night. Soft landing, somehow.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Worn out, Worn Down

I want to get up early, as I did when commuting to work in a NYC office from Oct 21 til Dec. 20 and then one day a week after that. Tights, dress, heels, makeup. Professional polish to produce polished work.

Good night.


  • Sunday, chip in for takeout w Sis, $20.

Total monthly spend as of March 24: $1,576.63.

Avg daily spend: $65.69.