ten pros and cons of non-employment

PROS

  1. wearing the same clothes for two or more days in a row (not including sox and undies! those get changed daily, thankyouverymuch)
  2. don’t have to shell out $2/hour to park in front of work
  3. don’t have to pick up coffee and treat on way to work
  4. don’t have to get ready for work whilst also getting children ready for school
  5. don’t have to pack the children’s lunches since I can’t afford for them to stay and eat lunch at school
  6. have the whole day to bake and make food for my family
  7. can take the children to the library or other places after school since I pick them up at noon
  8. don’t have to shower as much as when I go to work
  9. back doesn’t hurt so much when I’m not sitting in front of the computer all day
  10. two longish driving trips are erased when I’m not driving to work after driving the children to school, then picking them up on my way back from work again

CONS

  1. wearing the same clothes for two or more days in a row
  2. have the whole day to bake and make food for my family
  3. don’t have to shower as much as when I go to work
  4. no money when I’m not working
  5. no autonomy when I’m not working
  6. my work is all emotion and physicality for no money, instead of four or five hours of pure cerebral problem solving for money, then all emotion and physicality
  7. no grown-up joking around and simple banter with office workers
  8. my work is cleaning up the house, doing laundry and breaking up fights
  9. my hour and a half of peace while the girls are at school in the mornings is filled with manic job searching, finding nothing, then feeling like I did nothing with the hour and a half I had of quiet
  10. panic that I am unqualified to complete even the simplest tasks, despite large quantities of web experience

Like it or not, gainful employment is preferable to non-employment, at least for the moment. I have barely worked in the past four or five weeks. Maybe things will pick up at the place I’ve been part-time/contracting it for this fall as is rumored, or maybe it will continue to be slow for contract production work, and I’ll be shit out of luck. Who knows, right? Who knows how things will play out? I would very much like to be earning money again. There are many bills to pay, and me with an empty bank account makes me feel powerless. I don’t want to feel that way. But duh, who does?

While the girls color on the kitchen table, I’ve started bringing out my own special art project, coloring and drawing, too. Like the cool kids. I’m diggin’ graphite again, y’alls. Someone told me recently that the moon has graphite on it. So do my drawings. The ladies prefer colored pencils and crayon for word and letter writing as well as drawing people. Mainly Beenie is doing this, though Mimi was rocking C-A-T this evening. She likes the letter C, I can tell. I gotta get some of the great art and writing my little four year olds are producing lately. If only I could locate my scanner under the piles of paper on my desk…

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I’m a gripulous, gropulous groo

Oh look, it’s October. I have approximately five minutes before I have to pack children’s lunches and vamoose. But was missing 20/20, and all that it represents… complaining, frustration, inertia… well, I guess I wasn’t quite missing that part of it. Just the writing. Doing. Looking for work, jobs and all of that feels hopeless, and writing here does not. So here I am.

Fall has settled into Baltimore; cool, gray days, chilly nights. Mimi and Beenie have been sleeping soundly in their freezing cold room under copious blankees. I woulda kept the air conditioning full blast in their room this summer if I’d known all they needed were sub-zero temps to help them sleep like sweet little logs.

What used to be regular freelance work has dried up and blown into the breezy afternoon gusts. It was too good to be true, I know this. But it hurts when that exposure to grown-ups and money disappears. OUCH! Strangely and terribly, it coincides with sudden, gigantic household expenses, completely unexpected. No income, many bills. Unsettling and stressful. Yet familiar somehow.

My daughters are writing their names. They are counting. Beenie is drawing scary faces on many small pieces of paper and taping them to various items in the house, deeming said items “haunted”. Apparently, the kitchen is haunted heavily. The television is, too, as well as a small indication on a front window that the entire house is haunted. Mimi is making some breathtaking paintings. Every day she brings a new one home. I love preschool, but hate the gigantic bill they just sent to me. Like four months of charges who the f knows what for. I dread the kinds of discussions I’m forced to have with the administration at that school, but shit, bill me by month, not every four months, or five or six months! There’s no way I’m going to be able to figure out what the hell is going on with this bill. More anxiety about money. Breathe.

More soon. I miss you.

Subconscious


I’m not going to spend more than ten minutes on this tonight. I swear.

UPDATE:
I already lost on the ten minutes thing, immediately after making the proclamation, due to extreme cat meowing, the need to lock howling cats in basement for the night (don’t worry, it happens every single night since the girls were born almost four years ago), then the requirement of starting the dishwasher (thank you lord, for kitchen appliances), and the scraping of popsicle goo off the rug. Ten minutes came and went. And here we are, friend.

The past week was kind of brutal. A new preschool situation, now referred to as “summer camp” started up for the ladies. And it is kind of lame. THERE ARE NO BOOKS IN THEIR CLASSROOM! Can you fucking believe it? No, I did not yank them out — that’s something rich people get to do with their precious children. The rest of us have to make it work somehow so we have a few hours to go into an office and work on a computer while they are somewhere else. Yes, I’m complaining. But, also, yes, I got the girls to pull some books from their extensive home library, put them in a bag, and we bring our own goddam books to school every day. It is mainly for Beenie’s sanity — she does not need nor like to nap during naptime, but LOVES to look at books. The school does have a library, which is in a room off the main room of the room they spend much of their time in, but the staff is hesitant to break into the library for some reason, which makes absolutely no sense to me. Their previous classroom had tons of books, why not this one? It took about three days of trauma to adjust to this new situation; new teachers, new classroom, new lack of real schedule beyond craft, play, eat, nap. I need to work, tho, friends. The girls read plenty at home, and the teachers are really nice and I believe they are safe and fairly well taken care of. The girls are no worse for wear. So the summer of their third year lacks academic excellence. I doubt the summer of my third year was particularly engaging. I have vague recollections of soap operas on the black and white telly, my mom folding laundry, lots of books and the radio perpetually yacking. And the smell of her ironing clothes. Not a smell I smell in my life now, unless I go down to the basement when my husband is ironing an occasional work shirt every few months. I don’t do ironing. There are many common domestic duties I do not perform, and ironing is one of them.

I had a chance to obtain what probably would have ended up being a full-time job at a place that has nice benefits and a nice environment according to the kind friend who told me about possible employment at his workplace. He passed on my resume to the head of the web department, and the guy wrote me an email immediately, asking what kind of hours, availability, hourly pay rate, etc. I required. And something strange came over me. Half jokingly, I wrote an email that specifically spelled out exactly what I was looking for in a job, because my requirements are just so impossible. In the light of day, it reads like a total maniac penned it. But that night when I wrote this crazed job manifesto, it seemed like a GREAT idea to be as candid as possible. Completely inappropriate, and far too casual was this email. Then I had my husband look at it to make sure I wasn’t being mental, he made a very small suggestion, and then I pressed ‘SEND‘ and it was all over. Of course, the guy at the job did not respond to this email, because in it, I sound like a complete freak. Which I guess I am. So I’ve been a little bit cautious since, as apparently I can no longer control what I say or write, not when it really counts. I wonder what will happen the next time I’m unprofessionally and brutally honest. I’ll be lucky if the guy doesn’t send it around in some viral email thing. God.

Our cute little family started looking at houses today. Houses to move into. Maybe in the next 6 months. Next spring? School is looming. Two years till they’re ready to go to Kindergarten. Not that much time. We need some more room. I need a place to paint. Garage would be nice. Will keep you posted.

Pre-spring scourge? Check.


I thought for a few days I was in the midst of a strange allergy attack. Part of me still thinks this. Another part, the part that just woke me up at 5:50 a.m., hacking on my own sinus goo, thinks I just have a nasty little cold. Change of season, right? Who knows. It is seeming like the third sinus infection of the winter. Or not. On the couch, drinking hot tea to melt the goo away, writing on 20/20. Not such a bad thing. If I could get up at 5:30 every morning, there’d be no end to what I could accomplish. Maybe I could even start making art again. Get to the studio by 5:45, paint for an hour and some change, home by 7:30, when everyone starts stirring.

Work is still happening, which rules. I now have enough office costumes to wear so that nobody has to see me in the same thing twice in a two or three day period. The girls are now always staying in preschool from 9:30 till 3, three days/week. Beenie even naps there — she NEVER naps at home! The thing is, though, she doesn’t really need to nap. It’s just the culture of class that everyone passes out, so she figures she isn’t missing anything, and joins in. Makes bedtime challenging if I can’t get her outside running around somewhere, but I’m glad she can shut down for an hour or so during the day without too much hassle. Speaking of bedtime… 10 p.m. is an unacceptable bedtime for the little peeps, which is what it has become since daylight savings time kicked in. Need to trick their bodies into thinking it’s an hour later than it really is. Hopefully things will flow into a normal schedule by next week. Will try to wake them up early this morning to see if that helps.

What’s been happening? My mom is feeling better after about 6 weeks of shingles misery, so the girls and I traveled down to suburban D.C. to visit for a day the past two weeks. They love their grandparents. My mom’s illness came at a time that the entire Mid-Atlantic was shut down for 5 weeks anyway, though, so the timing was at least not entirely inconvenient. It is hard for me to believe how much snow was on the ground three weeks ago. Mountains of the stuff. I thought it would be May before it all melted, but I think most of it is gone now. Just the rain remains. And memories of being sick and cooped up with three other people in the exact same boat. Our little row house boat. There was only one day of real *lose your shit and kill everyone* mania, where I wasn’t sure all four of us would make it through The Shining, but here we are, somehow still speaking and interacting with each other. Amazing. We survived the BLIZZARDS OF ‘OUGHT TEN.

I have two paintings that sit in my friend’s studio, untouched for months. The Puddle painting and the Octopus painting. The Octopus is a commission for my sister-in-law’s cousin’s wedding present. I believe if the piece gets to the newlyweds by May, it will be within the good taste range of not later than a year after the blessed event. I’d say the painting is 95% done. Needs some color tweaking, but I think that could be accomplished quickly. If I could ever break away from my familial and job duties long enough to do anything. The puddle painting has less of a deadline. This piece started out as one thing and has become something very different. I like the transformation, but really, it needs some attention. I’d like to finish it in the next few months and ship it west. Hell, I’d like to ship myself west.

Chim chim cherrie.

calculatus eliminatus


Everyone loves you when you’re a freelancer. Or temporary. There’s a certain Je ne sais quoi about someone who isn’t in the office from 9-5 every day, won’t always be available for meetings unless you give them lots of notice. I’m still the new girl in town. I know it. I see the tired eyes of the full-time office workers. My eyes are tired, too — not from sitting under florescent lights all day, knowing there is no end to this existence — but from being woken up two times every night to get certain 3 year old ladies to the potty. Still, though, I am not yet a known entity. In many ways I don’t want to be known, or owned, as the case may be. I like being hourly. Some weeks I can make lots of moolah, hopefully balancing out the weeks I just can’t do anything because my girls have infected me with numerous illnesses. I like not knowing. As long as I complete my projects when I say I will, I hope things will continue to run smoothly.

That’s what I’ve been up to, ya know. Working. The ladies have been going to school from 9:15-3, MWF. That gives me four solid hours to either go into the office to work, or work from home. I like both. What has changed is this: time they are spending in school has transferred from time I spend cleaning the house, or going grocery shopping, or writing my blog, to doing web stuff, trying to make a buck. Attempting to appear bona fide. For real.

I miss this, though. I miss having an hour or two, once or twice a week to tidy up, drink a cup of coffee, think about stuff, by myself. I lost this part of my life this past summer when daily naps disappeared, then again, when I started working more and they started staying in school longer so I could work longer, so they could stay in school longer… uh oh.

Nothing creative has happened in weeks. Nothing creative will happen again, until it does. Until it must. I’m going to go downstairs, get a big glass of water, take the last pill of my latest course of antibiotics, and lie in bed. No cocktails, no stretching or thinking. Just laying down on my bed. Waiting for someone to wake me up to piss. I am happy last night/this morning revealed nothing more than a light dusting of snow. Thanks, mother nature. And I am also glad my daughters are healthy again, back in school, and generally wonderful. Both stripped five minutes before we went upstairs for the bedtime ritual tonight, ‘swimming in the pool’, which meant jumping naked off the purple chair in the living room, onto a pile of pillows they set up as ‘slides’. Brrrr!

Alone again, naturally.


Yes. It has finally happened. After what seems like months, but in reality has been about two weeks, I am ALONE. Quietly, sweetly, unbelievably alone. It is fantastic. It is incredible. Silence. The fact that my left ear is still clogged is enhancing the silence. All I can hear is the clickity click of my fingers hitting the keyboard. Just unscrewed the top of my desk so dear husband can whittle down the side a bit to accommodate the new, LOCKING file cabinet we got at Ikea this past weekend. For over two years, since the ladies became mobile and huge enough to rifle thru the shit on my desk, I know where absolutely nothing is. Especially important things that I should know about. But after today, I’ll put important things in my new locking filing cabinet, then LOCK IT UP. The next step to regaining small portions of my sanity will include keeping the keys in one place and not losing them. It is so easy to lose everything. I do it almost every day.

What kept us in our house for so long? No school, no work? The scourge. You know the one of which I speak. I was chatting with my doctor Monday as she faxed in a prescription of antibiotics for my ear infection, sinus infection and pink eye… she said when her now college aged twins were in their first year of preschool, they were sick EVERY MONTH for a year. But then they didn’t really get too sick afterward. A whole year. My girls have been sick pretty much every month since they started school. We get a week or two break here and there, but it’s been constant since September. And they infect their father and me. I can’t remember being this sick on a regular basis since I was a chain smoking, drunk 20something person, staying up all night doing god knows what, working shitty jobs by day. But damned if I didn’t look gooood! Skinny, spiky red hair. Somehow the sickness rarely got in the way of dragging my sorry ass out of the house to have some fun. Oh thin, glamorous, well-lived youth. I’m glad I had one! A nice long one, too. Makes me not resent the insane responsibility that has been thrust upon me (that I unwittingly thrust upon myself) and my husband. I’m too tired to be resentful. Besides, I’ve had some great years. And these child-full years are great, too, in their own way. Just different. And endlessly, germoriffically ill.

Now we’re all just hangin’ out, waiting for the 6+ feet of snow that have been piled onto every corner just to clear off the streets, to melt. I figure a few 70 degree days will take care of it. So we’ll be clear, when? Mid April? Maybe May?

Cabinus Feverous


Yeah, we did survive yesterday, barely. Today the sun was shining in a clear, blue sky. I did some research on tropical beaches to go to, which are unaffordable to us. I did find a small amount of comfort in the fact that there were pictures of white sandy beaches and deep blue water awaiting someone. I’m gonna shoot for a weekend trip to NYC to visit an old friend in March. Let’s all cross our fingers I can make that happen. Bolt bus is $20 each way or less, so all I’d have to spend would be food and subway money. Hopefully I’d just be lying around my friend’s house, spending nothing. And sleeping. I’d like to sleep.

I’m still pretty sick. Beenie’s pink eye appears to be going away, Mimi’s cold is not getting worse. Somehow, school is open tomorrow, but the fact that there is no way for a car to get off our street makes me think we won’t be there. Besides, nobody wants eye goo and snot and swollen lymph nodes up in their preschool. Gonna have to miss the Valentine’s Day partay. Add it to the hundreds of other school days they have missed. Good thing it’s cheap.

As hellish as the entrapment of the past week has been, in many ways, it has also been of some value. You gotta be able to come out the other side of this kind of thing. It can’t always be the worst thing in the world to be stuck in a house with your family. For me, I’ve been training for this past week for the past four years. In the house for days, weeks at a time, raising little kids. I’m used to this special type of torture, and like it in certain ways. It will make me appreciate the outdoors, once I’m feeling well enough to go outside. It will give me added energy in the hellish, sweaty, humid summertime to hit the playground ONE MORE TIME. I’ll think back to five or six feet of snow piled in between cars on our street, think how great it is to be able to leave the house when I want. I’m saving this blizzard memory to pull out on a 100 degree day six months from now.