Thursday, November 18, 2010

Meteor Showers

The Leonids meteor shower was supposed to be visible yesterday morning in the pre-dawn hours. promised that when the moon set after 4am that I would be rewarded with quite a show. did not, however, promise that there would be no clouds. There were thick clouds and torrential rain and I could not see the meteors. assures me that there will be another meteor event named Geminids on December 13th and that I should expect the show any time after the moon sets at midnight. Keep your fingers crossed!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Out With the Old

When my daughter's friends find out that I deliver papers in the neighborhood where they know people they always ask "Do you deliver to so-and-so?" My answer is always that I'll have to check my list. I only know my customers by their address, not by name, and 16 year old girls never know their friends' addresses. I have no relationship with any of my customers. I've only ever spoken a word or two in passing to a handful of them.

Why on earth did I give a sad sigh when I saw a realtor's for sale sign in one of their yards this morning? I don't even know their name. Weird that I would be sad to see the family at 26 Maplewood moving when I've never even said hello to them.

Perhaps its an automatic response to change. Maybe subconsciously I assume the worst scenarios. You know: foreclosure, death, unpaid taxes. Quite possibly I'm just hoping they'll remember to tip me before they go.

I think the "Awww" response is based upon my nature. Even though I don't know them, delivering their paper EVERY SINGLE MORNING gives me the right to mourn the change. I'm more than just their paper girl. I'm a writer who absorbs the details and creates imaginary worlds around anything I see.

I know them in a creepy stalker kind of way that non-paper-delivering/non-writing folks can't appreciate. I know that they have an exercycle in the basement that they use as a clothes hanger. I know that 3 weeks ago somebody left the sliding door to their minivan opened all night. I know that somebody often sleeps on the couch and that they never turn their television off. And now the repairs they made to the front entry (I tripped over the baracade) make sense.

Good luck dear home owner. May the selling process be kind to you. Where ever you end up may you find quality home delivery for your daily news. For me, please sell to someone with interesting quirks so I may weave a tale around the life of the new family living at 26 Maplewood.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Notice Me

We recieved a deluge of rain recently in the northeast. Cold, heavy rain. The kind of rain that soaks you in a minute. Delivering papers in that crap is miserable. I can't wear a raincoat. The water drips from the coat drenching the papers and my car seats. An umbrella is unrealistic because my routes are spread out enough that I really need to use my car. It takes considerably longer to deliver in the rain because I have to put every paper in a bag. It's a pain in the butt.

Sure I'm wet and cold, but it could be a lot worse. My car is heated. I have a nice shower with hot water back home to help chase the chill away. My warm puppy waits in my bed for me to curl around. My car dries out before I have to leave for my other job. The extra 30 minutes it takes to bag the papers will not kill me.

What bothers me is the customers. I'm certain that the majority go out to get their paper in the rain and say a silent "oh, that poor carrier" but the customers I actually hear from are the complainers. I had one customer complain so fervently that it prompted a phone call from my manager. She was ticked that I didn't get the paper closer to the front door. She got damp retrieving her paper from 2 steps away. Boo hoo, asshole.

Another customer saw me deliver the paper, rain streaming off the bill of my cap, then sent their dog to get it never saying a word to me. Just an "aw, you poor thing!" would have made my week. Nope, just sent Sparky to grab the paper then slammed the door tightly shut behind her.

Take a minute out of your life to appreciate the things you don't normally notice. Thank your husband for setting the coffee pot even though he's been doing it every night for a hundred years. Notice the brightly lit entrance to your driveway the next time you are coming home in the dark, those street lamps don't change their own light bulbs. Smile at the cleaning lady taking out the trash in the doctor's office, she's the reason you don't catch cooties from the person who used the exam room before you. And for the love of Pete, if you see me delivering your paper in the pouring rain, thank me.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The letter I would love to leave...

Dear Customer,

Please let me begin by thanking you for your loyal patronage. It is truly my pleasure to bring your paper to you each day. The purpose of my letter is to confirm that my service is all that you expect and to open the lines of communication should there be any problems.

To begin our dialogue, I’d like to take this opportunity to ask a few questions:

Is your paper there when you wake up? Have you ever seen me delivering to your house? If answers to both questions are no, then I can only assume that you are aware that I deliver your paper in the dark. As that is the case, I would like to remind you that when you snake your garden hose across the walkway which is normally unobstructed, when you forget and leave a stool under the porch light you replaced, and when you have mulch delivered to the center of your driveway and then fail to leave a light on for me to see it, I trip and fall and get hurt. If your paper has ever been received covered with blood, you now know why. Two words: motion light.

Do you know how many homes I deliver to? Are you aware that I have to keep track of 5 separate delivery schedules? Sometimes I forget that you, one customer out of 220, prefer that your paper be bagged each day. Sometimes I accidentally deliver to you on a Saturday when you are a Sunday only customer. Sometimes there are several advertisements in your paper and sometimes there are none. Often I forget that you want your paper in the cute little box hiding in the dark corner of your porch. You are one of 220 customers… please stop calling the press with these complaints. They are petty and just make me want to step in dog shit then wipe it on your welcome mat.

Do you tip your hairdresser? How about waitresses? Do you leave a few bucks for the maid when you travel? I provide a service of convenience similar to the aforementioned. It’s not just OK to tip me, the press pays me very little with the assumption that you will tip me. When I don’t get tips, I make about $5.00 a day (that’s 2.50/hr) after expenses. Yes, expenses. I have to buy the rubber bands that keep your paper from blowing away & the bags that keep your paper dry. I have to put gas in my car, batteries in my flashlight and replace my reflective vest every so often so your third shift neighbor doesn’t run over me. With 220 customers I don’t need a lot from everyone. Just a few bucks will do.

Once again, thanks for being a loyal customer. I hope this letter finds you healthy!

Yours truly,

PS: I’ve attached a box of Breathright strips for the snorer at 42 Elm St. Your spouse can thank me at Christmas time. I accept cash, checks and Starbucks gift cards.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

One paper at a time.

I used to wake up at 2:20am and immediately start calculating what time I would get done delivering. On the days I would arrive at my pick up location to find the papers aren't there, I would get really irritated that my schedule was disrupted. Years ago, after totaling my car because I was running late for work and driving too fast, I changed the way I thought about time. Haste makes waste. It's better to arrive late than dead. I reminded myself of that pearl of wisdom and have stopped thinking about the end and started living in the moment.

No matter how quickly I want to finish delivering my route I can only deliver one paper at a time. Each house, each customer deserves my undivided attention so that their paper gets delivered timely and to the right location. Thinking about the end instead of focusing on the process has always been my problem, creatively and in my day to day existance. It's what keeps me from cleaning my closets and writing my blog posts. It's what holds me prisoner in a job I hate.

Now each time I find that I'm focusing on the future instead of living in the moment I remember that car crash. Slow down and enjoy the ride. Disruption is what happens when life gets in the way. Arrive late and enjoy the sunshine rather than hurry and miss tomorrow.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Don't Give up on Me!

My sincere apologies to anyone whom may be peeking in from time to time. I am experiencing a severe case of too-much-to-do-and-not-enough-time combined with a speck of creative constipation. I will be busily brainstorming and making time management adjustments over the next several days. Will be back to posting soon. Thanks for your patience, DON'T GIVE UP ON ME!
<3 HH

Thursday, August 19, 2010


There is a lovely purple flower growing right out of one of the the paved roads on my paper route. This flower grows through the road not because it's trying to be difficult, it doesn't know that it isn't supposed to be there. It simply sought light from the sun and broke through the pavement because that's where it happens to have it's roots. Growing is it's purpose and not even and inch and a half of asphalt is going to stop it from achieving it's goal.

Every time I put off sitting down to write or whine to myself that I'm too bored with a story to complete it I'm going to remember this flower. My purpose is to write and share my stories with others. I need to stop procrastinating and making excuses and be more like that flower. The flower knows it's time to grow, so it grows. Not even an impermeable barrier will stop it. From now on, when it's time to write, I will write. Nothing will stop me from reaching the sunlight.

WOW! Women On Writing Blog: Friday Speak Out!: My Writing Time is Non-Negotiable, Guest Post by Heather Humphrey

WOW! Women On Writing Blog: Friday Speak Out!: My Writing Time is Non-Negotiable, Guest Post by Heather Humphrey
Finally got a by-line that wasn't on my own blog. WOO HOO!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


The streetlamps on the corner of one of the houses I deliver to are positioned in such a way that my body casts two separate shadows. Funny thing is that I've been reading a chapter dedicated to duplicity in "Becoming a Writer" and it's meaning really didn't click until I noticed this trick of light. It's like there are two of me. That's how it should be for any writer. The critic needs to remain separate from the creator. The creative personality needs to be protected and allowed to be full of intense feelings and sensitivity. That critical monster has to be kept away because it doesn't know how to play nicely with the creative pile of mush. The critic can silence the creator forever if the two aren't kept on their own sides of the bench. Cage the monster while your work is new. He'll have plenty of time to play when it's time to edit.

WOW! Women On Writing Blog: Plucking Story Ideas from Thin Air

Why I carry a notebook with me EVERYWHERE I go!

WOW! Women On Writing Blog: Plucking Story Ideas from Thin Air

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Side Tracked

This morning during delivery I was distracted. I had an epiphany at work yesterday, a divine intervention type of revelation about a story idea I've been mulling over. Suddenly the whole thing appeared in my head. The outline is clear, the plot and characters are beginning to reveal themselves to me and I am ready to begin writing. Trouble is, I'm really busy. I know that I need several hours of time to plant my butt in a chair and write this stuff down. I need to organize the notes I've been taking on paper scraps. I need to do some research. But when? I barely have time to write this blog post and am doing so by sacrificing sleep!

While delivering, all I could think about was that I should be home filling in my bubbles and writing a chapter. I probably missed a few customers; my mind was not on task. Just as I was working myself into a frenzy thinking irrational thoughts about abandoning the route, I noticed the moon and stars. I realized that I'd been so wrapped up in my thoughts that I wasn't enjoying a gloriously clear night.

I remedied the situation and put the story and my time management angst on the back burner so that I could stop and smell the roses. I noticed that the stars are beginning the noticeable seasonal shift. I can just barely see Orion on the horizon and in a few months he'll be high in the sky. I noticed the moon. It was barely a sliver back-lit enough that I could see the outline of the entire orb. When the sun began to rise the sky was a solid pale blue with not a single cloud. The devil's in the details. Notice them and create mental images that will keep the devil satisfied.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

WOW! Women On Writing Blog: The Adventure of Working From Home

WOW! Women On Writing Blog: The Adventure of Working From Home

For all the writers whom fail to give their writing the time it needs to flourish... click the link, read the blog, then tell everyone to buzz off while you write something!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Details of a Life

My new route is an old residential neighborhood. The sidewalks are cracked and uneven. The houses are close together. The steps are made of wood and creak under my weight. There are houses so tiny that I don't see how a family could possibly live in them. There are also houses so large that I could imagine several families living inside them. Many of the houses are multifamily dwellings with separate entrances. Many others have a single well kept entrance with the tell-tale signs of an elderly couple whom have probably lived there since they were 20 year old newlyweds- the plastic canvass needlepoint welcome sign, a wreath made out of faded plastic flowers and more obviously, the stone carving which reads “The Smith’s, est 1942."

I believe you can tell a lot about a family just by looking at the entrance to their house. One has a large water bowl for a dog to the right of the door. Another has a pair of muddy motocross boots on the sidewalk. The grass is always cut perfectly at one while the neighbors haven’t mowed for weeks. There are three cats staring at me from the back of a couch in one and several little dogs barking at the next. Some have the signs stating that the place is protected by a security system while others leave the front door wide open.

It would be very easy to walk across their lawns and toss papers toward the direction of the door without another thought. My writers’ eye however takes the time to notice the different things that make each house a home for its inhabitants. Every detail is important to someone sleeping inside, and making them real in my mind makes me care more about doing a good job for them. I’m more apt to bag the paper on a wet day if the customer is a person rather than just a welcome mat. I can picture someone shuffling past the muddy boots to sit on the glider with a cup of coffee to read the morning edition. I can picture Mrs. Smith being grateful that I place the paper in the mailbox so she doesn’t have to bend over to scoop up the paper.

Writing is just as much about observing details as it is about sitting down and putting pen to paper. Take your time. Look around. Every moment is research and discovery for the wonderful tales we weave.

Friday, July 16, 2010


It's amazing the things some people throw away. Dylan (that's my son) delivered with me this morning. It's garbage collection day which is nirvana for my boy. He found a shovel and 2 computer towers (or are they called hard drives?) to bring home. Two weeks ago he found a gently used step aerobics platform and a window fan that still works- very valuable since the temperature has been consistently in the 90's for weeks.

It's 4:50am and he's sitting in the living room dissecting the computers. He finds great value in seeing the insides of things, to understand the way things work from the inside out. I don't mind the mess and puddles of brick-a-brack he leaves in his wake because I know the value of experience. All the stuff he brings home and spends time with will some day lead to him realizing his quest for world domination. Hopefully I won't sound too dumb comparatively when they interview me on CNN about him in 20 years.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Summers are short in Upstate New York, as a result it's tough to find paper carriers who are willing to sign on for the long haul. Nobody minds delivering in the wee hours when the temperature stays around 60 degrees and the occasional precipitation is refreshing. Ask the same of someone when the temp hovers around zero and freezing rain/snow is the norm... good luck! But oh the descriptive details the observant eye can absorb! Entire novels could be written about the way a full moon back lights a dying tree, or the ominous appearance of what is a charming garden decoration by day, potential creepy tool of devil worship by night. I could sit and write material for hours... if only I didn't have a delivery deadline!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Newspaper Delivery Equals Life Experience

No matter what you do or where you go, if you are a writer, you should be gathering material. Experience is the key to writing believable characters, convincing dialogue, vivid settings and realistic plots. You would be surprised the lessons I learn about human nature while delivering papers. For instance, the customers whom seem to have the least are usually the best tippers. The people whom seem to have the most are usually the first to file a complaint should their paper have a wet handprint on it. Some people are awake playing solitaire at 3am and others are just getting home from who knows where. Some will meticulously manicure their lawns but leave bags of garbage by their entrace for days. The key is to pay attention and gather all this valuable information for when it's needed in your stories. Delivering papers doesn't have to be just about making money.

Many hands...

Since school let out for the summer, my 14 year old son has been sporadically accompanying me on my morning route. He does it to earn money or pay off what he owes me from his e-bay activity, but I LOVE the company! Not only is he fabulously entertaining but he truly cuts my delivery time in half. He asks me questions like, "if you were to become trapped by a resistance force and told you would only be freed if you denounced your faith, what would you do?" I don't know if his thinking is just way more advanced than mine or if waking up at 3am has short circuited his brain, but he and his questions are a welcome diversion during my morning deliveries. He will run ahead to houses with motion lights and dance in their glow. He runs around the car as I approach just to prove that he's a lot faster than me. Makes me wish I could bring him with me to my day job. Probably good that I can't, while he increases my efficiency and productivity on the paper route, he'd be a wonderfully oppressive distraction in government clerk world.

Friday, June 11, 2010


I’m getting really good at tossing newspapers. I used to have the worst aim. I’d land newspapers in flower beds or smack the aluminum siding on houses with such force that dogs would bark and lights would flip on in neighboring houses. Now I have perfected my technique so that I can either land the paper right on the welcome mat in front of the door or if I’m further away, I can get it to slide neatly to the door without it even unfolding! I wish I had the type of route that could be delivered from a bicycle because I think I might be able to accurately land a paper while on the fly. Hmmm. Something to put some serious thought into…

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Falling Down Part 2

I don't feel as though I properly described the flair with which I fell that first Sunday on my new route. It was quite grand. The reason I feel compelled to elaborate is because I keep replaying the scene as it may have looked to an observer in my mind. Every time I see it I can't help but laugh out loud. The sheer ridiculousness of the whole thing is what strikes me. I literally went down like a ton of bricks. There wasn't a modicum of grace involved. And once I was down I spent a few beats laying on my back like a turtle, instinctively protecting the papers whose safety I've been entrusted with. Then I rolled to my side and struggled to my feet under the weight of the heavy Sunday edition. The whole thing was absurdly hysterical. : )

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Thank Heavens Nobody Saw!

This was my first week on a new paper route. This time I'm handling one with between 80 & 101 customers, depending on the day of the week. On day 2 I fell flat on my knees after walking through a pile of mulch located in somebodies driveway. Lesson? Watch where you're going, not where you're headed ESPECIALLY IN THE DARK! Now I have a scabbing scrape on my knee, reminiscent of the kind kids get when they fall while skating or running without looking where their going while on a sugar bender.
Add insult to injury, I fell again this morning. This was a grand fall.... and it was daylight! Thank heavens it was early enough in the morning that nobody was out and about. I rolled my ankle off someones sidewalk and did an anything-but-graceful-pirouette to the ground, landing without ceremony on my left side. I'm ok. Only my dignity is damaged. I'm more upset that I have to get the grass stain out of my canvass bag than I am that I fell!