If you make the decision to tough life out as a working writer, it’s pretty much a given that at some point or other, you’ll have to supplement your income. And that means part-time jobs, thankless jobs, mindless jobs, labor-intensive jobs. But you take your lumps, because hey, it’s all just fodder for your future novel/memoir.

Yours truly has worked her fair share of side gigs–waitress, office assistant, PR rep, lab study participant, etc.–for the sake of some extra income. And I’m planning to dive into the exciting world of food service again, very soon.

But apparently–and I’m totally stoked about this–there’s a universe out there where professional writers don’t have to do any jobs but writing. They’ve never had to lift a finger in their lives to do anything more strenuous than clack away on their laptops.

And if they do, well–well gosh, it’s just quaint, isn’t it?

Take it from this New York Times piece by Caitlin Kelly, a freelance writer who decided to pick up a part-time job (part-time as in once a freakin’ week) working as a salesperson at a clothing boutique–for funsies!

Sometimes I feel like Alice slipping through the looking glass, toggling between worlds. In one world, I interview C.E.O.’s, write articles for national publications and promote my nonfiction book. In the other, I clock in, sweep floors, endlessly fold sweaters and sort rows of jackets into size order. . .

The contrasts between my former full-time job and my current part-time one have been striking. I slip from a life of shared intellectual references and friends with Ivy graduate degrees into a land of workers who are often invisible and deemed low-status.

Congratulations, Caitlin. You just discovered that there are other people in the universe! People who aren’t journalists. And have crazy things like diversity and no college degrees. OMG!

(more…)

Listening to: “Tiger, Tiger” – Bishop Allen

When I was in college, I was covered on my parent’s health insurance plan. After college, I had a full-time gig as an editorial assistant that provided some really crappy health insurance, but it still covered the big emergency stuff. I was laid off from that job in the spring of 2007, and I have been uninsured ever since then. I weened myself off the prescriptions I was taking at the time, and stopped going for annual appointments. If I’m ever in a fix (eye infection, sinusitis, stingray puncture, etc.), I go to urgent care centers and swallow the expense.

Do I want health insurance? Of course. Do I think I’m “invincible”? Of course not. I’m a freelance writer. Sometimes I’m a waitress. Last fall, I got laid off (again) from a “full time” job that didn’t give me benefits. These days, I live paycheck to paycheck, and sometimes without paychecks.

I live in Massachusetts, where supposedly healthcare is universal.

Bullshit.

(more…)

…to describe what I think of the NeoCons.

John McCain’s latest (clairvoyant!) pronouncement:

“By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom,’’ Mr. McCain said at the Columbus Convention Center. “The Iraq War has been won. Iraq is a functioning democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension. Violence still occurs, but it is spasmodic and much reduced.’’ The United States, Mr. McCain added, “maintains a military presence there, but a much smaller one, and it does not play a direct combat role.’’

Wow, that’s great, John. And by 2013, I shall have a pony-monkey-Care Bear hybrid who plays the piccolo, shits marijuana, and cleans my apartment for me.

Apparently the New York Times is worried that it isn’t pretentious enough:

“William F. Buckley Jr., who marshaled polysyllabic exuberance, famously arched eyebrows and a refined, perspicacious mind to elevate conservatism to the center of American political discourse, died Wednesday at his home in Stamford, Conn.”

No offense to the memory of the guy who Ferguson named his cat after on Clarissa Explains It All, but could you put more stupid big words into one sentence? A borderline run-on sentence? And in a lede, no less. Jeeesus.

In the same blow, the Times has won back my wayward heart with this geeky, wonderful article about the oft-forgotten semicolon.

A beautiful bit of punctuation. Please accept from me (apologies to Salinger) this unpretentious bouquet of late-blooming semicolons:
;;;;;;; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;