Some Of Us Work For A Living

Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Whenever I’m grousing about my current employment, or lack there of, Andy always has one standard comment for me. “Well, Ada,” he’ll say, “some of us work for a living.” Depending on my mood, that comment can be Andy at his most perturbing. No one wants to be reminded of their marginal contribution to society, but the truth of the matter is that I am not a good candidate for a bank loan. (I’ll spare you my joke about the frog went into the bank for a loan . . . .)

Yesterday I started my four job of the year when I joined the deep cleaning crew at the lodge where Andy works. The restaurant was put to bed on Monday, but I’ll return the restaurant when its seasonal hiatus ends on the day after Christmas and I’ll stay on until April when I’ll travel and reassess. In this past year I’ve been a temp for a major national retail corporation, a government employee, a waitress, and a housekeeper. I suppose that’s what you get when all you really care is doing the job well and getting a paycheck.

The seemingly constant hopping around from job to job can be hard to explain, both to myself and others. With a college degree in tow, the conventional thing to do would be to find a full-time, year-round job that offers health insurance and a retirement plan. On the flip-side of the coin, I am plagued by a worry that I’m undermining my artistic integrity by consistently finding ways to eat more than beans and rice.

On Saturday I spent some time at my parents house, picking up another shelf and some more supplies and books to make my home office in the Shack a little roomier and user-friendly. I flipped through a binder of writing information I’d put together in high school. The book fell open to an internet article entitled “How to be a freelance writer.” Sometimes I have to remember that I’ve wanted to be a freelance writer for a really long time.

There’s a reason for job hopping and the sometimes wacky employment. Although it can be scary to admit, there’s a bigger dream at stake. Every freelance guide I read stresses the need to have a bit of money – enough to cover a year’s worth of expenses – saved up before boldly setting out as a freelancer. And yet the financially imperative day job drains time from writing. So the eternal battle between heart and stomach goes.

There’s no real way of knowing if I’m doing this the right way and more than that, beyond writing, there’s no set (or right) way to become a freelance writer. It’s a slow path, riddled with obstacles and filled with wishing things were different. But I hold my laptop near and do the job before me, all the while clinging doggedly to the American Dream, knowing I’ll be a good candidate for a bank loan, some day, even if it means scrubbing wood floors on my hands and knees today.

Some of us are still working on working for a living.

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