Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Freelance Alley

I've been traveling along Freelance Alley for several years, performing an assortment of odd jobs, subjecting myself to roommates who'd I'd otherwise not have dealt with it, and living without health insurance.

I've worked uptown and downtown Manhattan, a brief stint in a hospital in Queens, New Jersey, and Connecticut as a full-time employee.

As a freelance worker, I miss seeing different people daily on the subways, people walking about the streets of New York, and coworkers with dramatic or problematic lives that made me count my blessings. It was some of those coworkers that set my wheels in motion: Take a chance in your life or become him!

Daydreaming in the workplace isn't always bad. It was in those creative visualizations I realized I'd best make a move to freelance or end up depressed and health-insured, en route to a weekly therapist's visit trying to reconcile a human desire for stability and comfort.

Freelancing isn't easy. I look for work daily on Mediabistro and Craigslist even though I have reliable work as a teacher and editor. I'm not asking for sympathy. I know there are thousands of others doing what I do at home, from free wireless coffee shops and lounges, or public libraries.

The Caribbean super in an adjacent building is my daily wake-up call: slamming doors, gathering broken bottles, and singing various melodies.
Time goes so fast sitting behind a computer screen researching, writing, or editing. I brew coffee, feed the cats and tropical fish, prepare breakfast and set about improving my craft daily. I look at the clock on the screen and wonder where the hours have gone when I hear students returning from school.

I've seen ads online for freelancer support groups, but realize I don't want to spend my time listening to people whine about not having medical benefits, sick and personal days, and office gossip.

I am happier working from my home office with buckling and warped floors camouflaged underneath a thrift store area rug, rather than working full-time in an office, trying to please an inconsolable supervisor and their boss.

When I worked in investment banks as a helpdesk agent and software trainer, I didn't like who I'd become: a working stiff, a zombie. The salaries were off the chart, the benefits and perks enviable. I wasn't content sitting at a desk surrounded by the long faces of people who'd either given up on their dreams or never had dreams of a remarkable life.

I hustle for work. I have created a freelance existence from scraps, sweat, and a desire not to be homeless and hungry in one of the most expensive cities in the world. It's better that I'm not in office with soulless people, my eyebrow raised, the hairs on my arms tingling, as yet another coworker regales the office with a play-by-play of their weekend in Atlantic City.

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