Tag Archives: freelance

Information–I used to love you, but I want to kill you

27 Mar

11:05 am

I am not sure if anyone understands just how much Too Much Information triggers me. Maybe it’s a legitimate pressure–if I can’t keep up, then I should bow out of this profession. Maybe I’m simply addicted to information? I should go online and search for a support group: Information-aholics Anonymous?

Today, I’m supposed to be Taking The Day Off: that means, for ONCE, no working. And, by no working, I mean, not just no story pitching, writing, or “job searching” (which, I admit, is part of the freelance game; I’ve had several job applications turn into freelance work); but also no sorting through scientific press releases; no stressing out about finding an outlet for a story that I wrote but that was subsequently rejected by the magazine that I thought I had it matched with; no checking journals, blogs, and the other quintillion sources of science news. And, it means, no other news, which I tend to do AFTER I “breeze” through the science and health news–radio stations that I like, talk shows, mainstream news, magazines here, there, and everywhere.

You get the picture. Information is endless these days, and if you’re not careful, it could blow your mind.

And then there’s social media. Dun dun dun. I was just commenting on someone’s blog about how back when I first started blacking out and getting angry, I would always take it out on my phones and my laptops–I am embarrassed to say that I have thrown oh, about 10 to 15 phones to the ground in drunken rages, and banged the shit out of at least three or four laptops (yes, my drinking was a lot more expensive than just the cost of the wine). And, I knew back then that I was missing real connection, and I was sick to death of the fake stuff: connecting to people through phones and through computers (via chat, email, and Facebook).

I’m learning balance these days, but it’s hard. If your profession is literally, dealing with information, then you can’t quite say, Fuck it, I’m quitting Facebook and never reading the news. If you want to be in this profession, I’m finding, you have got to find balance, which means, learning how and when to get just enough information to “keep up,” but not enough to drive yourself to drink.

Sigh. It’s my day off, and I’m already feeling that feeling I get–tight chest, upset stomach, a feeling of defeat washing over my brain. And I haven’t even gotten my social media fix yet! You know, I hate Facebook these days, not so much because of the rather “ill” interactions it encourages–I don’t really post anymore–but because I Just Can’t Keep Up. With all the information. And, it stresses me out. It doesn’t necessarily make me want to drink, but…it does something. Let’s not even talk about Twitter (which I use sparingly, mainly because I basically think it’s nonessential to my career at this point, and for lack of a better word, masturbatory–like, the same people re-tweet and post about each other, and then, they all convince themselves that that news piece or idea or meme is “important” or “hot”).

Yet, before I even got out of bed this morning, I was on my phone, checking the science news press releases. And then, after popping out of bed, and making it (ahh, diversion!)…I was on my laptop, checking work email, reminding myself to go to one of the big science journal’s web sites to see what came out today, and, then, to my blog to check on all y’all–which, I have to say, is NOT part of the cycle and is something I really enjoy and don’t consider stressful!

Oh, well. It’s all part of my story, right? We all have different triggers, things that bug us to our cores and make us want to numb out; mine happens to be this information thing, getting older and not being able to parse it all as enthusiastically as before, and not really giving a shit as much as I care about other stuff (inner knowledge, silence, listening to the birds and wind draw patterns on the inside of my brain, for example).

Most of the time, I don’t allow myself to consider this a real stressor–I mean, it’s not like I’m chasing kids, or commuting three hours one way (I did that once, for 18 months, remember?), or taking pictures in a war zone, or triaging AIDS patients in some poor African country? But sometimes, I think all of that would be preferable to playing with information all day.

At least I have the day “off,” right?

“Happily ever after”

23 Feb

12:46 pm

And, it’s been a week since I last posted–gah!

First, the good news: I am sober. And, we all know that that three-word sentence holds SO much good. Enough said.

Second, I have my life, and my working limbs, and no cavities, and relatively awesome health. I am calmer and happier than I’ve been in, like, ever. I am sitting at my part-time job right now, which is at the ferry terminal; and while others are too proud to beg, I sure ain’t. (I get paid $10/hour, but all I “have” to do, at this point, is exist and be friendly to strangers who come up and talk to me–done and done!)

All that being said, Jesus Fuck, I wanted to drink last night. I was agitated, and foggy-brained. Not sure which comes first, or if I can actually DO something to prevent this deadly state-of-mind. But, I got through it–thank God(dess). I wrote (pounded; I have no markings left on my “n” and “m” keys, which is curious because there aren’t many swear words that start with these letters) out all my bad feelings into my journal, and about an hour later, I was feeling better. And, this morning? SUPER-glad I didn’t drink. I would have gotten even more foggy-brained, and today, I would have been hungover and I would probably still be wondering who let Satan invent fermented grapes.

I do, however, see a 9-to-5 in my future. I mean, ultimately I can’t seem to grasp exactly how writers can keep up the freelance thing without a full-time (or at least, 3/4-time) job “on the side.” I don’t think many do, for practicality’s sake, but also, for sanity. Stay calm, I tell myself in the morning, and in the evening: you will somehow find the money for next month’s bills, you will somehow muster the energy for yet another pitch…for which story, if assigned, you will make a tenth of what you’re worth–but hey, who’s counting pennies? Yes, I’d be remiss not to admit that this makes my stomach boil, in a way. Two Ivy League degrees–one in the life sciences, no doubt–and I’m working a part-time job for $10 an hour so that I can be able to afford to do journalism? As one colleague of mine put it: journalism, the last “luxury” profession. It’s just…maddening…and, yes, it REALLY makes me want to drink. Like, every second of every day. It’s just another thing, I guess, that I fight against, along with the normal mood swings/cravings that come and go.

But, I can change things, and I have to remember that. And, all these things I’m worrying about, eh, they probably won’t add up to much anyway when the time comes to do the adding. Like, OK, I spent a year of my life not making that much money, living in the middle of the ocean. So? And? All this is to say, tomorrow–in the form of next week or next month or next year–will come, and I likely won’t even remember what I was worried about not having, or losing.

I’ve been feeling somewhat down lately, so forgive if this post screams dragging, or tired, or bothered. Or just UNDERPAID. I also haven’t been feeling well; and, it bothers me, like it would anyone. I mean, Google is the devil digital-incarnate when it comes to figuring out what’s wrong with you. I’ve determined I’m either dying of cervical cancer, or have lupus. Right. Dr. Drunky Drunk Girl and her assistant, Nurse Google. Maybe it’s nothing? The most frustrating thing is not knowing; a close second might be, not having any control either way–to the extent that you can take care of your health, you do, and beyond that, you don’t have that much say in the matter.

Yes, I really wanted to drink last night. I just felt…sad, or something. Sad about it all. Sad that I don’t feel well. Sad that I am pushing a boulder uphill. Like Sisyphus.

Which brings my wandering mind to my brother’s wedding in May. But, of course! You know how people get married and then, for some reason, expect their lives to be radically different somehow because they have a piece of paper that says “married?” Yeah, I never got it either. “Happily ever after”…what? It seems the same with sobriety: there is no happily ever after. You just keep doing life, albeit sober instead of drunk. YES, I handle things better–probably a lot better than I’m giving myself credit for today–but I still get agitated, I still ruminate, I still don’t want to socialize and then end up feeling alone. I still get stressed about work, and I still drag my feet when it comes to making decisions about pretty much everything important. I still feel depressed, or, slightly down a lot of the time. (Thinking of myself as Sisyphus is probably something I should stop doing if I want to not feel slightly down a lot of time, methinks.)

As my year approaches (in three weeks), I am definitely wondering about all this navel-gazing that Getting Sober brings (instead of simply quitting drinking, or cutting back). Do NOT get me wrong: I SO don’t miss being hung over, and doing and saying horrible things while drunk. Duh. However, I have to admit, I do miss the “fun” me; and, honestly, the sober me is well, sobering. And, she’s beginning to be quite a downer. I think back longingly to my late 20s-self–where is she? I miss that girl.

I know what I have now, though–who I am–is stronger, and more settled, and more emotionally adept at handling life. I know that I’m a much improved version of myself. Yet, I miss something…and I’m not sure if it’s related to me getting older, me getting sober, me not really feeling stimulated in my life down here, or what. Puzzles; it’s a good thing I have the patience for them.

Anyway, signing off for now. Chittering insects (my mind, reference to the closed captioning on ‘The Walking Dead,” anyone?). Hope everyone is doing OK. I, for one, have about 10 blog posts that I started and have yet to share. This week!

Oh, and thank you for letting me vent! I feel so much better. Smiling. You guys rock. And I don’t care who says what, even IF I don’t know what you look like and have never heard your voices (except for Belle), I can’t imagine having come this far without you. 🙂

300 days, and it’s getting better

13 Jan

12:42 pm

Well, here we are! Well, were, since 300 days came and went. And, to be honest, it was a day like every other: some ups, some downs, but mainly just stressed about finding money! I don’t know…it was just there.

When I think about how I spent my day, I really have to take a step back and say, Wow, that’s remarkably better than how you were spending your Sunday’s just a few years ago. Yesterday, I got up at the usual time, 10, which was fine. Early enough to have some morning left. I did some chores, took the dogs for a long walk, spent about 45 minutes chatting with my landlord/neighbor/friend, catching up on her holidays and future plans–a really good way to make myself feel more of a part of “things.” I came home, made some lunch (a spinach salad with some basalmic-oil dressing and some pasta), and then, followed up on yesterday morning’s yoga class by trying to replicate it on my own mat. Afterward, I meditated/dozed off on the mat, until about 2. I spent the afternoon trying to boost my mood to get myself to “do shit,” but I just couldn’t find the energy. My boyfriend came home from work, and we/I spent the evening walking the dogs along the back hills, grocery shopping, making dinner, talking to my mother for about an hour (I really need to call her more so that our conversations can be shorter!), and then, “binging” on our Netflix show du jour (Dexter).

I also made sure my dog got her meds in the morning and evening–she’s on doxycycline for tick fever, and she was prescribed a shit-ton of pills (a whole month’s worth, so four a day!).

Why so much detail? Well, if I was drunk/hung over, my day would NOT have included anything related to self-care or care of others/animals. It would have resembled what is unfortunately familiar to all of you: in bed until 3 pm, feeling sick, confused, and panicky, looking through my texts and email to figure out what I might have done or said last night; finally heaving myself out of bed long enough to make ramen and tea, eat that, and then pathetically slump back into my bed, feeling still drunk. I might have gotten up by 5 or 6 pm, as the light was leaving the sky, to get some air, walking a short few blocks up and down the city streets, alone. I probably would have called my mother, and then it’d be about 8 pm. Since I have no dogs to take care of in this scenario (no plants either), no boyfriend to share anything with, and no story pitching to worry about–because I have no freelance business–I’d probably go out to the corner store, buy a bottle of red, and drink that down while binging on a random assortment of Netflix shows (Intervention, Breaking Bad, or Lost were some of my favorites when I was hung over–sad, in a way, except for Lost, which I never quite remembered because I was drunk). Of course, the red would be making me feel at ease, and mainly, helping me to forget my hangover, another wasted day, and the dreadful feeling that I am missing out on SO much.

It’s the little things…but I can’t tell you how they really do add up to one HUGE thing. Like, the fact that it’s just normal now for me, expected that I wake up before 10, to take care of my dogs, to give my girl her meds on time, every day. The fact that it’s a given that I’ll have the desire to prioritize yoga, meditation, and a spinach salad on my day off–and not wine wine wine wine wine. The fact that I have someone to share my day with–that I’m not afraid of intimacy anymore (I was terrified of it, and everything that came with it, when I was drinking–it’s one reason I drank, to both avoid it and hide from my fear of it). The fact that I’m able to talk to my neighbors, that I have an outlet for feeling alone–that I see that others need me as much as I need them, that this is how it works, building community from the inside out. I don’t have to walk around alone in a cold city; I get to do it with someone else, among trees and sun.

I get to choose all this, and I get to choose to approach it with a positive outlook (that often means just ignoring the negative thoughts, the stress, the anticipation of the worst). And, I am aware of all of this, and of how good all of it is, and of how much better it is with this choice. It doesn’t always feel good–I have doubts and anxiety all the time–but it is better, that’s the truth. I look back and think, I may not have known I was dependent on wine, but I knew (believed) that I didn’t have a choice–especially when it came to the negative self-talk about how much my life sucked/how much more I wanted out of life that I didn’t have, which inevitably led to me drinking my nights away, one by one. And then, entire weekends. And sometimes, entire weeks (toward the end, I spent a few ENTIRE WEEKS drunk around the clock=yikes).

So, yeah. I don’t want to overemphasize the negative, but this post is just to say, it creeps up on you, the GOOD, and the BETTER that everyone (at meetings) bangs on about when it comes to getting sober. Sure, you sober up–there are a lot of realities I am facing now, and most of the time, reality comes with fear (whether that reality is actually anxiety-producing outside of my overreacting mind, I am not sure). But, you also GET. You get a lot. And most of it is in small changes, incremental ones that build upon one another until one day you wake up and you’re like, OK, wow, so I might want that glass of red, but honestly, I really can’t see going back to giving up all this–I can see it now, I have it now–in exchange for the “buzz” of alcohol.

As Dan Savage says, it gets better. Sometimes, getting better doesn’t mean what we want/think it should mean, though. Getting better is more complex than just feeling better–isn’t that what we tried to do when we were drinking, feel better? We never GOT better, though.

And, I guess I’ll fix my counter to 365 days on March…18th?

Fizzling out

11 Jan

7:58 pm

I just wanted to check in and thank everyone, firstly, for all the great comments to last week’s post on PAWS.

And, well, not to write a long post about it, but to say, I’m fizzling. Fizzled. It’s been a long past two weeks, and will be a much longer next few. This freelance writing stuff is the most labor-intensive thing I’ve done, mainly because of two things: 1. the world we live in doesn’t seem to value contextualized written pieces (unless they’re of course, shit like “Fifty Shades of…the Worst Writing in the World”), and 2. I have to juggle so many other balls in the air to keep my income coming in during the down-time/story pitch void (or, shall I say vortex, because often, that’s what it feels like). I spent all day today setting up an exchange between a yoga teacher and myself: I help her run her studio, she lets me take yoga for free. GREAT deal, and I’m pumped. I thought that this could be a paying gig, but it turned out to be better for both of us to just do an exchange. Still, I need to pay my bills, so I guess I’ll be looking at some other stuff in the “random job search” files next week.

I’m good, though. Aside for the sound of some dog barking incessantly from a distant hillside, nothing much is annoying, saddening, or triggering me. I feel relatively “up.” And, I know not to expect the “high high,” or the buzz, or the occasional “escape” into the ether that comes with a glass (bottle or two) of wine, but… Eh. I just feel “eh” a lot these days. I finally got my work mojo back, and it’s getting easy again to socialize and do business with strangers, but, it’s sort of…boring. I thought I’d get a MUCH bigger kick out of Accomplishing My Work Goals (in all caps, because it’s been SO freaking important to me to get to this point, being able to work AND be sober). Like, it became such a big deal to me, and now that I’ve come back and have realized that it’s SO not that big of a deal–everyone works–and that I’ve SO done this before; it feels too easy and not as rewarding as I would have hoped.

I guess I’m still looking for that buzz, whether it comes from an intellectual accomplishment or a glass (bottle or two) of wine. Maybe I’ve simply plateaued; maybe I might be here for a while; maybe I’m tempted to drink when my brain goes quiet because nothing is too bad anymore? I don’t dislike the plateau, and it sure beats the ditch where I was. It’s just…flat. And, I want to scream at myself, Uh, yeah, isn’t it NICE?! I want to yell, Isn’t it fan-fucking-tastic that there are no hills to climb–or cliffs to fall off of?!

Yes, it is nice, I quietly reply to that mean bitch (yes, DDG, you can be one mean bitch, just like your friend, Wolfie-boy). YES, it’s nice to be able to have productive day after day after day, with no unnecessary obstacles–like a pounding hangover or dreadful anxiety about what you might have said or done the night before–in the way. It’s SO nice. It’s SO good. Yet…I feel like I want to shake it up, come back to “myself,” mess up the rug a little.

Then I think, OK, I can mess up the rug a little, sure. But not until AFTER I get this, that, and the other done. And, those things are really important to me, so I can’t break my mental momentum just yet (ever). I can’t think about drinking AND get my shit done anymore. It’s like, I can’t circle back right now, it’s too distracting–and scary. I don’t want to lose time, to lose motivation, to lose the thread of my new life. It might happen if I drink; worse, it might happen even if I give myself the option to drink! I’m still too brain-less, in a way, to be able to live two lives, like I was doing for such a long time–how did I manage? Uh, I didn’t.

And, so it goes. I have come to appreciate the productivity in exchange for not drinking. Mostly, I have come to rely on this sense of focus, this recovered ability to actually make long-term plans and act on them. When you’re drinking, or even thinking about drinking, this seems to be at the least, compromised, and at the most, completely disabled.

Anyway, this wasn’t supposed to be a long post! See you tomorrow, when I finally reach 300 days! 🙂

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.

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