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Archive for the 'Question' Category

When is sick enough to call in sick?

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

I am the type of person to work through anything.

My sophomore year of college, it got to the point where I couldn’t even hear customers orders at the bowling alley before I went in to the doctor — and then, only after I was out of class and done with the Stater for the semester. By that point, I had two ear infections, an upper respiratory infection and a fever of 102.

When I was at an assignment this spring and got a call saying my grandma was in the hospital and doctors were saying she’d be lucky to live through the next day, I came back to the office and wrote the lead story for the next day’s paper before calling my editor to tell him I wasn’t sure if I’d be back for work the next day because I was driving up that night to see my grandma.

Last Thursday, when I felt like I was going to pass out, as if the blood had rushed from my body and the world spun when I opened my eyes or I felt like I was spinning when I shut them, even with a fever that made me lethargic the whole afternoon, I plodded through to file the A1 centerpiece for the next day. And knowing I had to finish all my Schools Page copy and local centerpiece for Monday, I went into work feeling like crap Friday.

Rather than go see my friend’s final performance with his band Friday night, I passed out around 9 p.m. and slept until almost 9 a.m. The sleep made me feel better for most of the day. I did get downtown for a bit and out to see a play, though not up to seeing another co-worker’s band that night. I thought perhaps I’d just been sick from stress or something on Thursday and Friday, which has happened to me before.

But then since I woke up this morning and felt maybe 55-60 percent, I’m reconsidering. I’ve been achy all day and I definitely have a fever right now. I could just sleep through next weekend and still be tired. So, I’m wondering if I haven’t picked up some type of virus that is making me just exhausted. I’m paranoid about getting sick, but with all the hands I shake and kids I’m around it’s kind of inevitable.

I am going to try to get to bed early (very soon) and sleep it off because I have to go to work tomorrow. But if I feel like I do now tomorrow, I’m in for one really long, unhappy day. Which sucks. Because what if it’s not just stress or lack of sleep catching up? What if it is a virus, and I could get someone else sick? Or what if it is just everything catching up, and I just continue falling behind — does this serve anyone?

I was talking to one of my friends tonight about it, and she suggested I take a sick day to recover. She said it’d be in everyone’s best interest. But I don’t even know how to do that because I never have. And I suspect my editor would be pretty upset for me to not be in there to finish my story supposed to run Tuesday on A1. And I don’t have all the interviews done so I could even write it here. Ugh. So I have to go to work.

My friend made the point that I should worry less about upsetting my editor for a day and more about my health. Her line, “The company doesn’t really care about me,” sounds like something Barb would say, and I know it’s true. But I feel bad letting anyone down. Plus, we’re down a reporter until we fill the county slot anyway. Plus, I’m not like vomiting or at the hospital. I don’t even think I’ll go to the doctor unless I continue to feel this crappy all week, and even then not likely. (I haven’t actually gotten a doctor in Lafayette. I haven’t needed to yet, and don’t know how to go about doing it since prior to my move, I’ve had the same family doctor since I was born. I figure I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.)

I don’t know. Part of me thinks she is right. I need to recoup and get back to 100 percent, or at least close. Otherwise I’ll be at 60 percent for a long time, and the total return will be less overall than if I missed one day. But on the other hand, we’re down a reporter and I do have a story for A1 Tuesday, and calling in sick would be a poor welcome back from vacation present to my boss. :/

Shrug. I don’t know when sick is sick enough, because I always just work to the point of no return. And this is exactly the time of year every year where I hit that point. It’s almost uncanny how predictable it is that I will be overwhelmed and sick the two or so weeks around Thanksgiving. But I usually push myself to see the semester through and then fall in a heap of exhaustion after the final exam and recoup for a few weeks. No such luck this year. There is no final/end in sight. I just have to chug along. Which is the only reason I’m even considering a sick day at all, because either now when I’m at 60 or then, when I hit maybe 25 percent and after many many more subpar days, will I have to take the time to recoup. It’s probably unavoidable. Ugh. Being a grown up sucks.

Picking a personal theme song

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

Here’s an interesting, albeit it not journalism related, task that came up in a story today.

It was National Mix It Up at Lunch Day, a concept that intrigued me enough when I got the press release a few weeks back that I actually went out of my way to call the group behind it and inquire on what local schools might be participating. The idea was basically kids sit with people different from them for a day to break out of their comfort zone and maybe, who knows, learn a little tolerance or meet a new friend.

I went to a local middle school for lunch. Rather than just one day of mixing it up, they decided to go for three. And to give the kids something to discuss, each randomly assigned table was given the task of creating a CD of songs that represent them. Basically, each kid had to come up with one song, and then they come up with a title and a CD cover, etc.

I didn’t really focus much on the CD, and mentioned it in one short paragraph in my story. When my editor goes through and is editing it, he calls across the newsroom, “Meranda, what song would you pick to represent you?”

I couldn’t think on my feet. Partially because one of his favorite sports is rolling his eyes at my pop culture choices, which are not necessarily mainstream (not that his are, but his are of an earlier era and mostly out of my knowledge base — and whenever I say this, I think he takes it personally like I’m saying he’s old, which he’s really not, I’m just not pop-cultured enough), and also because it’s hard to pick a theme song!

I said I wasn’t sure, but it’d probably be something upbeat like “Walking on Sunshine” or something ridiculous like that.

He went around the newsroom and asked everyone in turn. None of us were very good at thinking so quickly. So he said he should bring in a song on CD not labeled, and we’ll all try to guess. lol. Don’t know if anyone will actually participate.

Readers: Think on it for a moment, what would your theme song be and why?

When I got home, I started thinking about what my theme would be. Glancing through my iTunes and there was one song that is actually my unofficial theme. It was the song I played on repeat in the weeks before running for editor, and is the most-played song by a long-shot in iTunes. And it something most people have never heard of. I only heard it because once, several years ago, it was offered as a free MP3 download from MTV.com, and I was researching free & legal music for a story I was writing for the Stater. Awesome discovery. The song is “She Said” by Brie Larson. Heard it? Likely not.

Here’s the video. (I’m not a huge fan of the video, but the song is great if you just listen to the lyrics.)

I know it’s cheesy and cliche and so, well, predictable. But it’s honestly the song I put on when I need reassurance or want to cheer up. I’d say this is pretty much my theme song. I’m willing to take risks and fail, and at least I tried even if I don’t make it.

Get off of my back, stop sayin’ that
Cause I’m not afraid a heights
I may never get where I’m goin’
Yeah, but then again I might
You can’t get inside my head
Can’t be my safety net
I’m standing on the edge, yeah

I know it’s a long way down
But you can’t walk the wire
For anybody else
I might hit the ground
But at least I’ll have a story to tell
She said, I gotta find out for myself

is it brand new or just new?

Friday, September 14th, 2007

So there’s a debate of sorts that came up in a story I wrote today. And my meager Google skills (or more likely the fact that I am lazy and tired right now and have to wake up early) have so far not brought me any closer to a definitive answer.

I wrote about a band receiving an anonymous donation which allowed them to purchase a “brand new” truck to haul its trailer. The opening of the story talks about how bad the old van was, and how the boosters had been seeking money enough just to buy a used truck. But, then I talk about how a donor stepped forward and allowed them “to buy a new (insert the model which I can’t remember off the top of my head)” truck. My first draft said a “brand new ….” but I scratched the word brand because it was drilled into my head — by whom I can’t even recall at this point — that brand new was unnecessary. New alone suffices. It’s like saying something is very unique or the first ever. It is or it isn’t unique or the first. It’s either new or it’s not. Simple, right?

An editor called me around 10:30 p.m. to ask about the year of the vehicle. I have to admit, I didn’t get it and at that point, it was too late to try. I do know it was purchased off the dealer lot last week, but I didn’t think to ask the year. Point taken. I know nothing about cars anyway. Apparently without the year and my lack of the word “brand” before new, it throws into question whether the vehicle was new or not. (Or something along those illogical lines. I don’t quite follow it, because I clearly state it was new, so bear with me.)

I got an e-mail from the editor after our conversation: “We used the term brand new because it is not redundant, but has a meaning all its own. Brand new means not just new to the person but actually and indisputably new. Of course having the year would have made that unnecessary.”

I will give you that the year would have cleared it up if it were a 2008 model, but were it a 2007 model, it still could have been used. Second, I don’t think it’s necessary to be “actually and indisputably new.” I think being new is enough. The point is they were just looking for anything better than what they had, and they ended up with a free new $20K+ truck. It either is or it isn’t new. If it wasn’t, I would have qualified it, “new to them” or “used” or one of those other phrases that more aptly sum up the fact that it wasn’t, well, new.

But I digress. At this point, I’m just confused and venting. I am just curious if someone else has thoughts on this? Is it new or brand new, and do you think there’s even a difference? I understand the reasoning for including “brand new” in this story, I suppose. And it’s not like it meant cutting anything else to fit in that word. But I am curious for future purposes, because as I said, I was always taught it was a major don’t. And in a world where tight writing is necessary, I want to know if this is a safe short cut.