Tag Archives: freelancing

Keeping my head above water–barely

16 Dec

8:12 pm

But, at least there IS water in these parts!  Haha.  SO glad to be out of the desert.

Anyway…  Hi!  Hello!  I am feeling a bit sad–frustrated, mostly–that I haven’t blogged much recently.  It’s been sort of crazy the past few months, moving across the country AND starting a new job, and traveling for work this past week to meet my team, get trained, etc.  SO, I just wanted to stop by and say hi, and let you know that I’m still here–albeit, sometimes I wonder where my brain has gone lately.

Whew.  We moved.  Across the country.  And, I started a new job.  In the big, cold city that I left years ago (though, I normally work from home, which is not there!).  Literally on the same day!  When it rains, it pours, I suppose.  Exhale.  It couldn’t have gone smoother, really, this whole business; and we are finally relatively settled in our new place.  Our apartment complex has four lakes and a bunch of walking paths, all of which is surrounded by conserved marshland and trees overgrown by Spanish moss; compared to the city I was in this week, this place is so nourishing and peaceful that I cannot appreciate it more!  Damn, I am not who I once was–and it is glorious to finally be able to admit that, frankly.

I have been at the new job for almost three weeks, and so far, so good.  I unpacked my suitcases and a few boxes, and within a few days, flew out on a business trip to meet my team, get trained, blah blah blah.  While the new gig has been eye opening–I haven’t felt this welcomed to a new job in years, maybe decades; and, being in the same room with your coworkers truly does motivate you to new heights when it comes to a shared sense of purpose–I can’t believe how tiring I found it going into an office every day.  (I like having full control over my time, and my creativity; I like not being entrenched in a team–that is not how this is going to be.  As a freelancer, and contractor, I’m used to an empty room, and a blank page, as it were.  Still, it’s nice to feel the safety net at the moment.)

I mean, it was physically tiring, of course; I couldn’t get over what a (freezing cold) hassle it felt like to get myself from bed to office; and then, to sit in said office, being productive and keeping my game face on through what was (is) for me, and excruciatingly painful 8 hours.  I cannot IMAGINE that it doesn’t affect most people, sitting on one’s ass all day; but, I really couldn’t see any sign of discomfort on anybody’s face.  Just me, being spoiled or old or a wimp; but in the usual pain.  (I normally stand all day at my standing/raisable desk, and for good reason.)

It was also mentally challenging in that, I had to maintain my sober zen, if you will, in the face of intense “microaggressions.”  I love that word, and it SO defines life in big cities, especially this one.  From the cold wind to having no space, to bad food and unfriendly strangers; it’s all about trying to keep your inner wall up and intact.  Those stressors are what cause people in early sobriety to relapse; that shit is what gave me many more reasons to drink, at least in my mind, for most of the years I lived there.

Anyway,  I just can’t imagine going back to that life–especially after the one I’ve built, and have been living, since I left the “real world” in 2012!  Moreso, I can’t imagine wanting it–and that is new, and something that I’m starting to more fully embrace.  So, I am super-grateful that I can do this job remotely, and in any setting I like, save for one day a week at a regional office.

I’m back home now, and feeling warm, relieved, and like my zen is back.  I have to say, while I like it here so much more than the desert–precisely because it reminds me of our old island life is making me long for that life more and more.  I’ve written about this before, but I have spent most of the past two decades doing what (probably) many people of my generation have done:  striving to achieve.  You know what?  I’m tired of it.  I’m grateful, indeed, at having had so many opportunities to strive to achieve, but frankly, it was only after I left the mainland in exchange for a slower, less achievement and consumerism-focused lifestyle that I realized, this is me.  This is me.  Ironically, I spent my entire time on that island trying to convince myself that it wasn’t me; only now, years later, am I finally starting to accepting that maybe this really is me!

I am glad I’ve taken this new job, which is exposing me to all that I left–albeit, at a much kinder pace (nonprofit and journalism are distantly related, but I would say that they’re much different beasts).  However, I can see more change coming in the near future…

Wine?  Yes, admittedly, there were a few times these past few weeks when I fantasized about drinking at some point in the near future (what that means to my fantasizing brain, I don’t know, honestly); BUT, at no point did I have the urge to drink.  Never the urge, only the fantasy–which is always crushed when I remember the reality of my red wine drinking days.  I know better; thank God, I know, and I know better.  In this one thing, I know better, and so I do better.  Exhale.

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The view outside my sober healing bubble

24 Oct

3:56 pm

Tired, but hanging in there…

…not unlike the one car that YOU happen to be on that gets stuck, dangling in mid-air on the roller coaster ride called sobriety. Or life. Or living sober. Or just living.

I had a job interview today, and I only got about three hours sleep last night due to waking up at about 3 am and then tossing and turning for the next four hours. I had the worst recurring “nightmare,” too: I was literally buried under mounds and mounds of possible interview clothes, and I had like, 45 minutes to pick an outfit. I was running out of time, and I had no idea what pieces I wanted to put together, and I needed help, so I frantically called in…an old boss of mine? What? Anyway, it was SO stressful. When I finally shook the sleep out of me, I realized with sweet relief that real life is actually better than my dreams–kind of like when you dream you’re drinking, or drunk, and then you wake up to the fact of your sobriety. Sweet, sweet relief.

Someone emailed me the other day, and she reminded me of what I’ve heard before, that the first year is about getting sober and learning how to stay sober; while the second year is about learning how to live sober. I think I’m finally simply understanding this shift, from “healing” to “living;” and that I can’t stay inside my sober healing bubble forever. Unless I want to either stagnate and/or drink again.

As you’ve seen, I’ve been sort of getting my mojo back when it comes to socializing and work. Today, I took a BIG peek–maybe even a step!–outside my sober healing bubble and went on a job interview. Now, I have gone on a couple in-person interviews in the past two years (when I left my last full-time job to begin freelancing), but my last one was last June, and last June seems like FOREVER ago. In fact, I believe I was stupid hung over on that day–big surprise.

Anyway, today I interviewed sober and not hung over, and I felt good. Good to start to put myself back out there, in all ways, not just pitching and talking on the phone in the comfort of my own sober living room. Good to have to stress myself out a bit, whether that was finding an outfit (I’m picky, so I reluctantly spent more than I could afford), or driving myself downtown, or finding parking (I’m pretty sure I fucked that one up and parked where I shouldn’t have), or introducing myself to a new person and having to talk about myself for half an hour.

I don’t know if I want this job, but it would be SO nice to have some reliable income–a 9-to-5 job is manna from heaven to this girl right about now. In any case, over the past few weeks I’ve managed to land a few other freelance gigs that could turn into more substantial income, so that’s definitely good news. The name of this game is persistence and/or how bad you want it. Fortunately, I have at least one (persistence), which I might be confusing with banging my head against a brick wall, but so it goes.

So, that was what happened this morning. And now, back to my regularly scheduled program of looking to see SO many other science writers being published, especially in two new-ish magazines. Le sigh. One day…one day.

Baby steps, or faith in…? Something, at least

10 Oct

10:43 pm

And, sound the trumpets! I pitched my first “real” science story today. I don’t want to get my hopes up, but I’m hoping anyway.

For some reason, I’ve stopped worrying about money this week–the making of it, I mean–and have had a surge of story ideas. The kind of surge I used to have, back when my brain was working, fluid, and open to anything and everything being a possible “story.” I had forgotten about the “fun” part of this job because I’d been so busy killing any and every idea I had before I even gave it a chance. Ideas, any and all, plus the ability to pitch them and then, not care if you’re rejected–that’s the heart of this profession. It’s been a while, as you know.

Drinking. Man. Drinking. What good is it? It fucks with your motivation, your reward system. It messes with your ability to learn. It ruins your powers of concentration, of focus. It zaps your energy, so you feel lacking in determination, in initiative. That “oomph” that I thought was gone for good? That I was SO SURE was never coming back, months and months into my sobriety? It is slowly but surely coming back.

And so is the reality of work. Of sitting down and reading and researching–for hours, days if need be–to at least tease out an idea enough to be able to say, this is (or is not) a story idea that I could research and pitch. Did I not know this was part of a journalist’s job? Sure, I did, but I guess I “forgot.” Conveniently, when it was much easier to drink wine than it was to follow through on any of my ideas with sustained effort. Did I just spend too much time at the recovery fair, so to speak (Joan Didion reference!), that I lost sight of the fact that I am not exempt from hard work? From actual effort? Did I expect it to be handed to me, or was that the byproduct of all the thought-wrangling involved in quitting drinking? Because I’ve spent SO much time figuring out this sobriety thing, don’t I deserve everything else to be easy from here on out? NOT.

I don’t know. But it’s coming back and it feels damn good. Good to actually WANT something again. Friends, it’s been SO long, and I’ve been feeling my way through the dark, existing on hope and dare I say, faith. Faith, yes. Faith that somehow, this shit would improve. Somehow, I would mine an ounce of authentic (as in, not forced) motivation and interest. I’ve been reading lots of science magazines and combing through scientific articles this week, not only being interested, but remaining interested after hours of work. Who is this new person? (I have to say, the sciatica has subsided a lot lately, and that is a huge relief; I really don’t acknowledge just how much my back pain has interfered with my life, do I? Of course, I don’t; this alcoholic loves to think she is supposed to be in pain all day, pretending that it’s not affecting her mood and focus. Sigh.)

I also seem to have some distance now, in the form of a MUCH more solid foundation of self-appraisal as well as perspective on what it means to “succeed” and “fail” in this business–and to take little of it that seriously. To have some fun with this. And, to learn to see when I’m becoming too tunnel-visioned and say, OK, deep breath, it’s not that big of a deal, take a break, think about something else. There’s just…balance here now, in my life. I never had any sort of “balance.” I’d heard a LOT of people talk and read and write about that elusive “balance,” but I could never pin it down and define it for myself.

So, maybe this post is about balance. And baby steps. Being OK with the baby steps, taking them even when I’m afraid or am CONVINCED that they’re too small/going to lead to nowhere fast.

This morning, I was thinking about how things have changed since this time last year. I sat down at my computer and noticed the line of folders stacked up along the left side of my screen–all of them are personal projects. I’ve had so many ideas for so long, but none of my personal writing projects ever got started, let alone worked on enough to even be labeled a project worthy of its own folder on my computer. I drank away my time, out of fear–fear which is with me even as we speak–how on Earth could I ever make any of these things happen?

Now? Lo and behold, I have projects. Some just begun, others being quietly plugged away at. And, I’ve realized that this “getting projects started” thing is very similar to quitting drinking. It’s baby steps, little by little, and it hurts and it feels awkward and painful and “I just can’t do this shit…” And then, you’re doing this shit, and it stops being shit and starts being something that you’re doing, that you CAN do and you WANT to do. For example, freelance writing: initially, for me, lots of blunders, lots of fear. But, every day, that fear goes away, I pitch more, my projects are slowly but surely increasing; the fear of being “found out” for the alcoholic fraud that I am (think I am) is going away. I am no longer a fraud; I am no longer hiding behind a bottle of wine (or inside one, more like it). I am doing the shit now, and the car keeps rolling down the hill. I’ve realized in all this healing and navel-gazing that “failing” is part of the process of moving forward. Failure is not the end. Failure is a node, and things happen at nodes.

I want to be where things are happening.

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