Five Things Friday: November 8, 2013

(I’m late! Oooo, I’m telling on you…) For personal reasons, this date is usually a day for memory. So this week, here are some thoughts from (or rather, about) my youth.

1) I regret being into pop music as a kid. I don’t hold myself fully responsible for my taste back then–the music you like, until you know better, is largely based on what you’re used to, and the influences of peers and radio were not easy to shake off then. Pop music is catchy, designed to please your brain in a certain way without paying any attention to whether the music is good. I admit I’ve always been a sucker for a more-or-less pleasant melody I can sing along to… but of course, that’s oversimplifying it. That’s not to say that ALL pop music is bad. Some of it I do enjoy now. I’m totally in love with Marina and the Diamonds, whom I only discovered recently. And sometimes I don’t even know how to categorize the music I listen to. “That’s pop? No, that can’t be pop, it’s good.” That’s usually how my brain works.

What it comes down to, though, is this: while I’ve always been good at singing and I found very basic music theory easy to understand, it took me a long time to actually be good at music–that is, to really hear it and be able to recognize whether a song is in fact good, or just catchy. Although I was one among many, I find it embarrassing that I spend my early years listening to boy bands and Britney Spears, instead of actually becoming familiar with Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Garbage, and Jeff Buckley.  And Brahms. Brahms is awesome: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1trE3ms3AGo.

2) Once, someone shared a secret with me and only a few minutes later I ended up telling the person it was about. I have no idea why I did that. But it’s just one of many, many times I’ve said something I shouldn’t have. I’m much better about that now, having learned that you can’t just tell anything to anyone at any time.

I have not gotten over saying stupid things, though. I do it frequently. And I often look back at things I’ve said and feel uncomfortable with how stupid it was.

3) I know a lot of people grow up and still like fast food, and continue to eat McDonald’s. I have slightly higher standards for my fast food now. I haven’t eaten at McDonald’s for at least three years now. But I remember how much I used to love it. My senior year of high school, or maybe my junior year, I spent so much of my time driving down the street and getting an order of chicken selects for dinner. I LOVED those things–I was never into the chicken nuggets so much, and at this point I probably couldn’t eat them without getting queasy, but the chicken selects were whole, white meat. That was my lifeblood. I still love chicken, but no longer go to McDonald’s.

4) I think I actually had a better attention span when I was a kid than I do now. That seems strange, doesn’t it? If I really try, I can focus on things, but most of the time I get too distracted, and I can’t really just do one thing. I find this frustrating and perhaps that’s why I’ve had a strange nostalgia for my teenage years lately–I knew what was happening, I didn’t have to pay bills, and I could actually sit down and read a damn book.

5) In the house we lived in when I was very little (the one that burned down shortly after I turned 8), my enormous bedroom had a walk-in closet. My brother’s room has this little secret room, a door that opened outward or upward or something, into a little private cave. I was jealous of this nook even though I had a nice big closet that was, at times, my cave. I can’t remember what was kept in this little secret room. Was there a chair? Were there pillows? Books? Stuffed animals? Was there a light? I don’t know. However, I do know one thing… I kind of wish I had one of those now.

Five Things Friday: October 4, 2013

Damn, time is passing fast. Before you know it, I’m going to be 40 and I’ll wonder what the hell happened. (For reference, I’m in my 20s now.)

I’ve decided that this week I’m going to make a writing wish list. Whatever you think that means, I will tell you what I mean by that–

I am going to write a list of things I want to facilitate/encourage writing. Because I like stuff, and I like daydreaming, and I like complaining about what I don’t have. (:P) I’ll attempt to go in order from the most plausible in reality to the least.

1) This mug. I have wanted it for a while, actually, and I will get it. Perhaps for myself for Christmas or my next birthday or something. Assuming the entire country hasn’t collapsed by then because of Republicans.

I just really feel like I need this mug. I think it will help me.

2) A printing station. I’m imagining a setup with a color printer, although I’d mostly be using black ink, that would also have a scanner just in case, and a stack of crisp, clean paper underneath, easily accessible. It’s much easier to type stories to begin with than to copy them into word files from your handwritten originals, so I usually just type everything now. However, as I’ve learned from my current job, editing in word with track changes is ok but I often wish I could just have a stack of paper with the words in hard copy in front of me, and the ability to actually write on the document with an actual pen. Ah, to be working in publishing ten, or even five years ago…

But back to my own writing. I do think that printing out stories and reading them on actual paper might do something for me, in terms of seeing how the story works as a whole. I don’t have a printer right now, nor do I have easy access to a free one, and I don’t want to pay 5-10 bucks at fedex every time I need to print some of my work.

I still believe in print books. If we clap, will they stay alive–like fairies?

3) A writer’s retreat. I am picturing 5 days to a week, just being off in a little apartment/bed and breakfast place somewhere, stocked with plenty of coffee and simple food that doesn’t actually take much time to prepare, so I can just focus on writing. Maybe I could complete a few short stories or “outline” (my process never creates a real outline) a whole novel. Ooh, this is so exciting to think about!

Unfortunately, plans like this require vacation time and money. I have no money (all goes to bills and expenses) and I need the rest of this year’s vacation time for Christmas. Side note, I still think employers should allot more vacation time per year than just two weeks, although I’d be fine with them limiting how much time you can take off consecutively.

4) A complete rewiring of my brain. I am about to use the word “wire” a lot, and I know there aren’t wires in brains, but it’s like a metaphor or something. Shut up.

I feel a lot of the time like the wire that is supposed to connect the part of my brain that has ideas to the part that executes them is not connected, or was eaten through by mice (brain mice) or somehow got blocked. I just need that wire to work again and I can start getting stuff done.

5) Absolute power over time and space. This would allow me to write when the ideas and creativity and words are actively flowing, when the mood has struck, rather than forcing me to try to call them up again when I finally do have time (this is one of the reasons I use google docs–not that my notes have helped that much so far). I would really like to be able to drop everything and write when that mood does strike, without ignoring my daily obligations and therefore fucking up my life. Inspiration still happens to me, bafflingly enough, but pretty much never when writing is possible.

Oh, I know what a terrible excuse that is. It doesn’t make it less true…

On the plus side, this post has really made me feel like writing. Maybe I’ll actually get something done this weekend?

All of my fingers and toes are crossed.

Five Things Friday: September 27, 2013

Five things I didn’t do this week:

Eat lots of vegetables (only ate some vegetables)

Read most of the two books I started last weekend (read almost nothing).

Work on organizing my room (not even a little bit).

Write (thought about it, then went back to hulu).

Come up with an interesting FTF post topic/list.

 

Will I ever get myself back on track? It seems doubtful. But right now I’m in a hotel room in Vermont, on a break from life, and I don’t even care.

Five Things Friday: July 12, 2013

Is it really only the 12th?… but then, at the end of the month I will be thinking, where did July go?

 

One

Some condensation from my water glass drips onto my foot as I take a drink. The touch of the water droplet is surprisingly light.

Two

Behind my eyes is that sensation of sleepiness–the struggle to make them stay open, the strangely dull sting that persists until I finally give in and let my eyelids meet. A moment later they flutter apart again the the miniscule respite was enough to let me continue on for a little while longer.

Three

I sometimes leave books and other items on the sides of my bed rather than moving them. The edge of a hardcover Jane Austen pokes just a little bit into my thigh. It’s not uncomfortable, really.

Four

Throughout the day, one eyelash continues to point itself right into my eye. It’s doing so now. I poke at it to make it move, but it seems quite determined.

Five

There is no chill in the air, but the recent heat sort of makes it seem that way. I sit rather cool, wondering if I should retrieve a sweater, or just go to sleep, wrapping myself in a blanket cocoon until morning.

 

Five Things Friday: July 5, 2013

This is a bit later than I planned, because Friday night happened, as it sometimes does, and I did not end up having time. Then I just totally blanked for a while on anything I could write about. So now I’m just going to wind back some metaphorical clock or other and pretend it’s Friday while I write this.

July 4th edition

One

The first thing was waking up around 9. After waking up much earlier, thinking, “That’s too early,” and going back to sleep.

Two

Sometimes people make you waffles. Waffles are tasty with maple syrup and a giant pile of cut-up fruit on top. And coffee. But most things are tasty with coffee, so why even bother mentioning it?

Three

The movies are an excellent place to go when it’s Hellishly hot outside. They always have air conditioning. I saw Man of Steel. It was entertaining. Since then I have developed an impression of drunk Superman that is very entertaining.

Four

DON’T go to The Gourmet Dumpling in Chinatown on a holiday. Just don’t. But, DO go. They have really tasty food and considering the portions, it’s going to be well worth your money. Unless you hate Chinese food, in which case, I’m sorry about your taste buds.

Five

I should have known that Friday, being the day after a holiday, would not be a productive work day. I should have known. I thought that I could be all focused and just knock out all this work in no time. …Nope. I blame the heat and my need for tons and tons of sleep right now. You know that feeling you get sometimes, when you just want to spend an entire day in bed, napping, maybe reading or watching a movie if you feel too awake, but otherwise not being conscious, and maybe wake up the next day super-rested? That’s what I would have liked to do on Friday.

 

And also, Happy 4th of July. I prefer to express that sentiment AFTER the 4th, when most people are over it. 😉

Five Things Friday – June 28, 2013

This idea is based on a few posts I’ve seen recently, and is really just a way to get myself to post more, and perhaps get creative juices flowing. It will typically be a list of things… possibly things from that day specifically, or maybe from the previous week. It might just be a recount of events, or it might be five flash fiction pieces! We shall see. I’m theming it for Friday, but probably won’t post until it’s technically Saturday most of the time.

Here we go–

 

  1. Sometimes, the feeling of relief or lightness that occurs when you finish a large project only lasts for a very short time, because you still have so much more to do. It’s not satisfying. That lightness should last at least a day. Or perhaps for the rest of your life, and then it would be The Unbearable Lightness of Being. You should read that book. It was really good.
  2. Right now, it seems that trying to make myself think of five things to write about on this particular Friday evening was a bad idea. However, since I have decided to do it, I am going to do it. That is the only way to get anything done in this life.
  3. Lately I have been stumbling across so many songs that trigger that “repeat 1” obsession. It seems that for me that almost always happens when I just connect with something about the song. It does have something to do with the sound, of course, but going deeper than that, it is not that the story told in the song really describes my life, but that the idea or feeling behind the actual story is something I can relate to. It’s often a mostly emotional thing, and very hard to describe, so even if the lyrics do not apply to me directly, the song in general might as well be about me.
  4. I am still feeling a little strange about vlogging. Despite knowing how hard it is to build up an audience at the beginning, I for some reason really want lots of people to watch and like my videos NOW. Even though I don’t have a real camera and I am using an editing program that is extremely lacking. And I’m awkward and I don’t entirely know why I am putting videos of myself talking in a room on youtube for everyone in the world to watch. But you should go watch them.
  5. I would really prefer to fall asleep listening to rain than to the explosions coming from the video gaming downstairs. I don’t begrudge you your hobbies, but I do not understand why you are so dead set against me sleeping. I NEED sleep. I really, really do. Please stop making the circles under my eyes darker, because sleep deprivation is going to drive me crazy and then, I cannot say what is going to happen…

 

I would really like, in the future, for this list to be more of a meditative, picking out very specific moments or images or thoughts to talk about. Sometimes, you just need a good ramble, though. Ever have one of those weeks/months/years/lives where you just have so much going on that you don’t actually have time to expunge all of the disjointed thoughts darting through your brain? That’s me right now.

If you got this far in the post, thanks for being patient enough to read that crap. Come back next Friday evening/Saturday morning for five more things.

A Story in List Form

To Do

1. Pine and long. Whine and/or weep internally.

2. Get this camera sorted out. It’s true that no one has a digital camera that runs on AA batteries (except me), but remember how much you liked taking pictures of things?

3. Say what you mean. Mind-readers are so much less common than you think.

4. Dye your hair. Nothing will change.

5. Sigh

6. Sit and watch the rain. This one might take a few days, but it will happen. And there will probably be lightning!

7. Remember which Hindu god is supposed to be the remover of obstacles.

8. Perception is most of experience.

9. Do not buy coffee tomorrow.

10. Ice cream is in the freezer.

11. Try to keep that cat from climbing your legs.

12. Try not to feel.

13. Realize that #12 will never happen.

14. She walks in beauty like the night of cloudless climes and starry skies,

Beauty is before her, above, and below her,

As the swan in the evening moves over the lake,

Water, water everywhere,

Oh, you pretty things, don’t you know

I am not there. I do not sleep.

Why Full-time Freelancing Would Make Life Better

Inspired by the list-style articles of Cracked.com.

Having stumbled upon one or two uncharacteristically high-paying freelance jobs in 2010 (and none since), I have had a taste of how nice freelancing can be.

I’m not naive enough to think it would be like that most of the time. I’m not saying I think freelancing would be easy, or glamorous. I think freelancers who are able to make a career out of it work very hard, sometimes harder than those with traditional employers, and can often be underpaid, or underappreciated, not to mention that there is no guarantee of finding work.

But, for argument’s sake, let’s say I had gone through the uphill struggle of establishing my freelance writing business and had consistent work. (And, while I acknowledge that continuing to find freelance jobs would be a significant part of the job, I am not going to talk about that in this post.) So, as a full-time freelancer, without the added responsibility of kids/spouse, these are the most prominent reasons why I would enjoy my work. Aside from the writing.

1. Morning Commute = 30 Seconds. 

My current morning commute is about an hour. I arrive between 9 and 9:30. The absolute latest I can wake up and still have time to take a shower is 7:30. If I actually want to have time to relax and have a leisurely coffee+breakfast, I would have to wake up by 6:30.

To some people, this is not a big deal. I understand that. But let me tell you, I hate waking up early. I really do. But I really like having time in the morning. Rushing is not fun. Plus, if I don’t wake up early enough, then my hair will still be wet when I leave the house, which actually matters in the winter when it gets below freezing…

On the other hand, as a freelance writer, my office would be in my house. I could wake up at 8 o’clock and still have ample time to shuffle around in slippers with a mug of coffee, maybe watch the newest episode of Community that just came up on hulu. I could even make pancakes if I were in the mood. And had the right ingredients.

Working from home, it wouldn’t be that important to shower beforehand, either. So I could even happen to sleep in until 9 o’clock and get there on time.

Even if I were in a situation where I rented office space somewhere, it wouldn’t be that bad. 1) I could rent an office somewhere a little closer to where I live, so the commute wouldn’t have to be an hour long. 2) If I was late, it wouldn’t matter all that much. Making your own hours is a necessity in freelance work. If I don’t want to make those hours 9-5, I’m sure I could find a way to make it work. In addition, if I decide to work from home instead some days, or take home the stuff I don’t get done, there wouldn’t be anyone to tell me I couldn’t. As long as I meet my deadlines, and can show some progress along the way, they aren’t really concerned with the rest, right?

2. What to Wear

This is a huge problem some days. Especially icky rainy days, when I’d like to wear something pretty and springy, but I don’t want to ruin my pretty springy clothes in the rain. And some days I really don’t want to wear anything. I’d rather hang out in the chemise I wore to bed.

Working from home would completely solve this problem. Except for any video conferences in which you might have to partake, you can literally wear whatever you want. No one’s going to see you.

I’m not just talking about wearing your pajamas all day, either. That is, of course, a great argument for freelancing, but sometimes I want to dress up, too. I’m talking formal, full-length dresses, or lacy out-for-the-night dresses that are just too much for the office. Yes, sometimes you just want to wear a ball gown and sparkly jewelry, and maybe some 4-inch heels. And having to settle on a simple skirt and top combo, with much lower heels, is just unsatisfying at those times.

And I would be lying if I said that I would not sometimes “go” to work naked. No one’s around to see, I don’t want to wear clothes… only one logical option there.

3. Meal Planning

Planning meals is one of my top frustrations of working a 9-5. When you’re shopping for food, you have to take into consideration what would make a good to-go meal. And, unlike some offices, I can’t heat up food at work, so microwavable options are out. That limits me, most of the time, to sandwiches, yogurts, and snack foods. Leftover pizza works well, but I don’t always have leftover pizza. And – unfortunately – I can’t afford to buy lunch every day, even if I just go for a Dunkin Donuts bagel/coffee combo 4 days a week.

If I could get to my kitchen for my midday meals, I would have the typical options of sandwiches and yogurts, plus my stovetop, oven, and microwave. That would expand my choices so much. I wouldn’t have to say “well, I need to buy things that can travel so I can eat during the day” when I shop. Not to mention that it would save time in the morning if I did not have to prepare lunch before leaving for work. There are, I admit, quite a few days when I end up buying either breakfast or lunch because I run out of time in the morning.

I would be remiss not to mention the possibility of delivery in this mix. Want a pizza? Chinese food? Sandwich? Burrito? There’s probably some place that will deliver to you. No need to cook, and someone will bring your food right to you. Now, there is technically no rule against getting food delivered to the office, but I would feel very awkward about it. Plus, then you’d have to deal with your leftovers, which is much easier to do when your refrigerator is a few steps away.

4. Playing Music All Day!

Because of the way my office is set up, it’s not really an option to play music while I work. This is a problem for me.

Some people think you shouldn’t do this, that it’s too distracting, that it hinders productivity. I’m sure that is true for them. For me, there are times when not playing music is too distracting. Mostly, this occurs when a certain song is stuck in my head. Then, I’ll be thinking about it whether or not I can hear it. If it were actually playing, the part of my brain that can’t let it go for some reason would be happy, and let the other part actually focus on the work I have to do.

I have some song or other in my head the majority of the time. I have always played music in the background for just about every task I do, from housework to writing, even sometimes watching movies… I find that it sometimes help me focus. The times when it does distract me, I don’t believe that turning it off would help. Sometimes, the brain just does not want to do one thing, and trying to force it only has a small chance of working. For my part, I think that having music playing would be a lot less distracting for me than hearing all the sounds from my coworkers.

5. Making My Own Schedule

I touched on this a little in the first entry to the post. In freelancing, I would be working for myself. While I know that I would have to work with other people, so much correspondence is done by email these days that  it really seems unnecessary to have specifically set office hours. So maybe one day I work 12-8 instead of 9-5, or I spend the day reading and watching movies and then I write all night. Or maybe I only work 6 hours a day – if I can get the work done in that time, all the better for me. (Aside: I have the impression that many freelancers end up working more than 40 hours per week to finish projects. I’m just making a point about not having to work on a schedule set by someone else, not trying to say that I would do less work as a freelancer.)

That goes for time off, too. If I have the money, and I want to take a week off to go somewhere nice, that vacation is entirely on me. I would have to schedule my contracts to allow for that week of not working, but I have faith that I could do that just fine. There would be no one to ask for permission, no time-off-requests to make. Knowing me, I would still be reachable by email, so I could still try to address any problems that came up, but for the most part I would have the time to myself. And since freelancers are not generally paid by the hour, I would not have to deal with the worries of not getting paid for the time I take.

I want to stress that I am aware that freelancing full-time takes as much work as any other full-time job, and more than some. I’m going to be totally honest – the best option would be to win some mega-jackpot lottery, or discover that I own some artifact worth a huge buttload of money. That seems like the only way to guarantee the freedom to set your own schedule and not worry about having enough money to pay rent.

So, the question remains – lottery tickets, or freelance websites?

My First World Problems

1. I’m addicted to pizza. I’m pretty sure it’s official at this point.

2. I haven’t had chocolate for at least three days since really, really wanting some. When I go grocery shopping, I am definitely going to get some chocolate. (However, I do have some whipped cream in my fridge and the other day I ate some. Plain.)

3. I can’t ever seem to have enough shoes.

4. Modcloth – any time I buy the thing I want most from the site, they add new stock that I want at least that much…

5. My laptop is too big to be convenient for travel. Great for watching dvds, though – although the speakers aren’t great for that.

6. My ipod battery runs out so quickly.

7. So many books. So little time…

 

Feel free to suggest more fwp’s, or add your own, in the comments.