Hey, a couple of weekends ago I went out to Gene’s to get the Pony “out of mothballs,” and take him out for a run. The Pony started right up, and I think I used up every piece of road out in Gene’s neighborhood before I put him back in the garage. Here are a couple of photos.
Moving on. Kind of a bitter sweet deal unfolded over the last couple of weeks. I got a call from my friend, Martha, over at the EPA lab saying she could use me for a study where all I had to do was hawk up loogies for some pharmaceutical company. For this I would walk out with a check for $85, so I said, “sign me up”! Better yet, if it turned-out that I was an acceptable participant, I’d get a call-back for another “loogie session.” In order to be acceptable for this particular study, one had to score at a particular level on a test where the amount of air one exhales in a second is compared to the total amount inhaled before the exhale. This will mean nothing to you, hell it doesn’t mean anything to me, but on this test I needed to score .70 or higher, and try as I might, the best I could do was .68. A call was placed to the company about my slight under-performance, but after a bit of a wait Martha said, “Well, you know, you’re gettin’ older and while your performance is just fine, it looks like we’re not going to be able to use you.” She cut me a check, but I felt a bit deflated that I hadn’t “made the cut,” and that perhaps my guinea pig days were over.
But later that day Martha sent an email saying that the company would let me come in in a week and try again. Once again I blew like the big bad wolf in The Three Little Pigs, but the result was exactly the same, .68. I had thought that if I really tried, I could get a better result, but by golly, there was no fooling that infernal machine. There were hugs and good-byes t0 Carol and Heather and Martha, who I’ve gotten to know over the years, and it was just a bit sad both knowing that I likely would not be coming back and that, well let’s face it, my body had let me down. And it was on the ride home with another $85 check in my wallet, that it occurred to me that Martha knew all along that I likely wouldn’t pass that test. What she was allowing me was a little retirement bonus and a chance to come in one last time and say some good-byes.
I sent Martha an email later that day and thanked her, and she admitted that she hadn’t held out much hope that I’d pass. She maintains that they could still call again for something else, but I’m pretty sure that that was the end of a chapter.
But until the book (or in this case, the blog) ends, there’s always another chapter, and for me that next chapter began at about the same time the EPA chapter was winding down. Actually, that’s not true, it’s first pages were written over a year ago, but let me back up and explain. Our power company is a cooperative, and an overarching organization made up of all North Carolina co-ops publishes a monthly magazine for it’s customers; it’s called Carolina Country. They bill it as “North Carolina’s largest and most trusted magazine.” As I said, about a year ago I was perusing it and noticed that each month they ran a first person human interest article under the general subject of “Where Life Takes Us.” It struck me that perhaps the Pony’s story might be a fit for this category, and there was some incentive; the magazine indicated that it paid $100 for articles that are accepted for print in the magazine.
It was a challenge condensing the five-year-long Pony story down to the magazine’s 400 word limit. Hell, each of these blog posts is around 1000 words. But I massaged that thing for a few days until I had something I thought worth submitting, added a couple of appropriate photos and emailed everything in. Like many things that I send away, my submission then seemed plunge into a black hole. It was similar to the several times I’ve written to the president of our local hospital always with truly helpful suggestions (no, honestly), but never a peep out of the guy. Anyway, months went by with no word about the story. Maybe six months ago some guy at the magazine sent an email saying they might be interested in running my story. But, apparently not…back into the black hole.
But several weeks ago another email, this time from a woman at the magazine saying that if I was still game, barring any “hiccups” they were going to included my story in the April issue. I should just send “high resolution” photos and some personal details. I’m not sure what hiccups are in the publishing business, but with my track record believe me, I was waiting for the hiccup. Then this week, well, I’ll just show you.
So, what are the impacts of this. First, as Andy said, “Oh man, Dad’s going to be pretty hard to live with now that he’s a published author.” Second, the Guinea Pig-O-Meter gets a $100 boost. Third, I’m going to be looking for a way to monetize the blog. Now that I’ve been paid for my writing, you don’t expect me to keep doing this for free do you? And finally, now I am challenged to find other ways to see my words in print. I guess that’s what next chapters are all about.
Here’s a link to the Carolina Country Magazine website, so that if you are so inclined you can view my little story about the Pony, my friends Gene and Lynne and me. When you get to the site, just scroll down a bit and you’ll see the article.
I’d be remiss here not to mention my poor Mom, who fell last week and broke her hip and wrist. She’s in rehab now, and I’ll be going down to spend a week with her next week. We all wish you a speedy rehabilitation, Mom. See you soon.
Happy Easter everyone and thanks for reading.