Discovering the FREE in Freelancing

January 4. Was it really that long ago that I last posted?

Not here to bemoan the passage of time, my absence of posting within it or to catch up. A ridiculous notion.

I am here to express, and to a certain extent unload, the dismay that blankets me now. I’m a freelancer who’s discovered the operative element in that word: free.

Doesn’t matter where I work. Okay, a small local paper. Doesn’t matter where. Okay, in a state that starts with A and btw, I love Arizona. It’s a damn fine state and plentiful red for this hardcore conservative libertarian.

Doesn’t matter the town’s name. Really doesn’t.

What’s notable is I’m a freelance reporter, features specifically, at this little paper. I was brought on board as a stringer so no illusions about it being “fulltime” or “well paid” or bountiful in production. About 8-12 stories a week (it’s a weekly) was a reasonable expectation. Thus FT-ish and I could squeak by long as I keep expenses uber low.

Well, it hasn’t gone that way in quantity (reasons unnecessary for this posting) and even if those confining conditions are “removed,” couldn’t say the figure’s reasonable.


I’m so excited! My first full paycheck in a long time AND for doing something I love and am meant to do! Work with purpose! Pay for work with purpose! A concept that I must continually roll around on my tongue like a spiced walnut or splash of (not cheap box) red wine.

I know it won’t be much. A few hundred dollars that’ll pay most but not all the rent. It’s progress from continuing to dip into the fund left by a family member and I’m in NO WAY ready or desiring to write about him and that passing on the blog or anywhere else.

I delay opening the envelope containing the check. I want to savor the anticipation of being paid for what I love to do and am meant to do. I continue the walk through the desert heat toward home.

Finally I’m ready. “$325 or so isn’t a lot but it’ll go toward the rent. I’m excited!”

I open the envelope, remove the check. My eyes widen. My breathing stops. My heartbeat’s arrested.

$159 and some change.

Wait, is that right? I scrutinize the attached record of stories and photos for the past two weeks. Repeatedly. Many times over. I practically memorize it.

It’s accurate. No articles or photos overlooked.

In a two-week period, I’ve earned $159.

That’s a few tanks of gas. Not even half the rent. I’m heartsick and stomach-sick. I feel like throwing up. The emotion is that intense. Emotion of what? Lack. Panic. Creeping return impoverishment and poverty (that I’ve already been through, endured, survived.)

Prosperity? No. Abundance. Fuck no, save for the love of writing on the spiritual plane. But spirit don’t gotta have an abode to live. Or bills to pay.

Two weeks of work. $159. It spins inside heart and mind, instigating an urge to both cry and vomit. I’ve always held my emotions in my stomach. I’m heartsick and heartbroken both.

= = =

I calculate things. I earn a penny a word. It gets worse. I roughly calculate in my mind the hours spent on each story. The time to travel, to do the interviews, to take the photos, to transcribe the recorded interview, to write the raw story, to *craft* the story, to manage the photos and write the captions.

I might make $5 an hour.

What is the minimum wage in Arizona? $7.80.

= = =

The life for this freelancer is this. That which is described above. I work as close to free as I’ve ever worked in my adult lifetime.

I work and so damn hard, with love in my heart and passion for writing.

For it — that is, two weeks of such impassioned and meticulous time and labor (of love) and work — I receive: approximately three tanks of gas.

I want to cry and die both. That is how heartsick I am.

27 July 2013


Starbucks cup for a buck

I’m not in love with Starbucks or its products. Yesterday, however, I strolled into a Starbucks surprise deserving of a shout-out to the ubiquitous java supplier.

Just yesterday (1-3-2013) it rolled out its tumbler for a buck. Made of recycled materials and plastic,  its designed to cut down on paper waste — of which there’s plenty, as any visit to Starbucks reveals.

It looks exactly like the “real deal” — same logo, same design, same sized sip hole. The material’s thick enough to withstand hot sudsy washes yet thin enough to conduct liquid’s heat to the hand. Oh, and the cup’s got the three lines demarcating size: tall, grande and venti.

Pretty cool methinks. And only for a single greenback! (.776 EU, .98 CAD, .995 AUD, 88.2 JPY).

Of course the longstanding policy of a dime off your bill when you bring in your own mug (Starbucks-affiliated or not) continues. In my case, nine more cuppa joes and the tumbler’ll pay for itself. After that, it’s a dime a pop free and clear.

The Starbucks cup for a buck … a hot deal …

Starbucks cup for a buck

Starbucks cup for a buck

2013, oh happy to see you!

Ambivalence ain’t the best associate with whom to re-enter blogging. Surely there are most congenial ones to be had — confidence, excitement, rarin’ to go ambition. There it is anyhow.

Ambivalence is what I’ve got, the scars of blogging past and disappointments inflicted by readership. Ain’t  gonna dredge those channels. Too early in a new year for revisiting the truth that people suck. I can defer until Jan. 3. Perhaps the 4th if I really push it.

The act of writing is paramount, even if no one’s listening or interested or caring. The gift and curse of a genuine writer. To be a writer: an honor,  nee state of beingness, of such magnitude that I still can’t wrap my thoughts around it for reasons too personal to put into a blog, even if no one’s reading.
There it is.

Anyhow, the new year is upon us. If history’s any indicator, I’m due to watch a lot of TV in 2013.

How can I present such a prognostication this early in the game? For years dating back to I don’t know when, whatever I’m doing on New Year’s Eve reveals the tone-theme-mood of the coming year.

And since I was at the local watering hole — surprisingly (if not disappointingly) uncrowded for a New Year’s Eve and a half hour before the clock struck midnight — with no one really to talk to and staring up at the TV broadcasting the Times Square ball drop that in reality had taken place two hours prior — well, that can mean only that I’m destined to watch lottsa TV this year.

Ever the outsider observing.  The gift and curse of a writer,  I suppose.

I digress.

Contrary to a good portion of the U.S. population, I did not greet this first day of 2013 with a hangover.  Even in my youth, lost before it ever begun, I didn’t view NY Eve as reason or opportunity to get as wasted as humanly possible while retaining mortality.

No, my persuasions incline toward the Japanese style of celebration, which lean toward serenity and cleanliness. Yes, despite being back on Western soil, I continue the tradition of o-soji — the Great Clean — whereupon house, home, property, workspace and automobiles are cleared of clutter and dirt. Windows too to anyone who happened by this blog!

Traditionally debts are paid off too. Not so much in modern times. The goal is to enter the new year with a clean slate.

Well, I’m not entirely there yet but I come damn close.

Then there’s the visits to the shrines, usually at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and the prayers.  A severe shortage of those – shrines and temples, I mean — here in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, to be sure. Nonetheless, the shrine attitude’s within. Upon that I make due.

In a really really really clean house! … save for the clutter of my roommate’s space and basement. Gotta uphold a practice and policy of hand’s off  in that situation.

I pose to myself the question I ask of others upon this cusp of a new year: What do you hope for, wish to see in 2013?

My answer: abundance and flow … in all aspects, from finances to work to creativity — writing that book especially! — to, well, the rest I leave to the imagination.

Sure, on the surface those sound like wishes and hopes by a good third (or more) of the world. But I’m an individualist,  not a generalist, and I don’t speak for a third of the world’s population.

Abundance and flow in all areas of life: words of significance, meaning and power of me, from me and pertaining to me personally.

And there it is: blog entry numero uno in 2013.

Cautious as I go.

To anyone reading and not reading this post, I wish for you a year true to you.

Because it ain’t New Year’s without a kadomatsu (or some expression of Japanese decoration):




Full Sail into Socialism

I’m alive on the day that America died. That day yesterday, Tuesday, November 6, 2012.

It is the day that the American people chose her new “leader,” a radical leftist by the name of Barack Hussein Obama. A Muslim, a non-American to mine and thousands if not millions more suspicions, a man with an agenda. A man with a chip on his shoulder and hatred in his heart. Hatred for America.

A man with an agenda. An agenda to bring America to her knees, to bring about her capitulation as payback for all the wrongs perceived by Obama, his minions and the Democrats/liberals/progressives (now one in the same).

Americans have elected for the second time a man with a black heart of hatred for the very country that he has been chosen – by they themselves – to lead.

The world is plentiful with analyses, discussions and dissections of “what went wrong” in this election: our single opportunity to pull the country back from her tipping point.

Tipping into what? European socialism and government takeover and control of one’s very life and existence, inch by inch, regulation by regulation.

I leave those discourses to others.

I see a country that has failed. My country. America, the home of the free and the brave: in another era.

She is no more. Her shining seas are polluted by darkness and the will of the people who have chosen that darkness by their vote.

Her waving amber grains drying, withering, decrepit from lack of nourishment, absence of care.

It’s the government’s job to water the grains, not mine.

This is the new American. This is the American who has risen from the soil of indulgence — by parents, society and modern cultural mores — and entitlement. No longer are producers the majority. The takers are. The “entitlers” and the takers.

And these Americans, who do indeed now comprise the majority of Americans, see in Herr Obama a Santa Clause (as Rush Limbaugh, bless his soul, said at the top of his first show after the election and among the most important broadcasts of his career).

Americans chose THEMSELVES. Not themselves. Not others. Certainly not the country or that which is best for America.

Held upon a most vulnerable precipice for America, this election sets the course of the country not for years, neither for decades. It determines the course for generations to come. For children of our children of our children of our children of our children unborn.

We are moments away from Taxmageddon and, over time, full implementation of ObamaCare: each separately and both together designed to destroy capitalism and enterprise and “make the rich guys  pay.” Separately and united, they will make the rich poor and the poor poorer.

THIS is what Americans chose, in their utter ignorance of the designs and intents of these government takeovers.

Or: Is it ignorance?

Stupidity perhaps?

Or: selfishness?

Yes. Selfishness.  We are no longer a charitable nation, not as we were. We ARE a Nation of Takers.

Set full sail into socialism by choice. By their votes.

I was alive on the day that it transpired:

November 6, 2012.

My heart breaks.
My spirit is wearied.
Life in America as we of another generation knew it.
My generation and the many before me as Americans who were free, enterprising and prospering.

Rest in peace, America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. Of the past.

Fading pages upon which such freedoms are penned, by our founders and assured by that gorgeous document called the Constitution, lifted by the winds and cast into the oblivion of uncaring and unconcern of selfishness that DOES now define America.

The gusts of socialism.

F is for …

Just sent an email to a casual acquaintance and to jog her memory described myself as “the enslaved writer who scrubs toilets for a living.”

Ouch! Yet oh so true.

Nothing would make me happier than to be freed of the slavery pounded into body, brain and spirit by my father in my childhood.

More precisely, nothing would bring peace and freedom like being freed of the slavery pounded into body, brain and spirit by my father in childhood.

That which doesn’t destroy us makes us stronger. A lovely concept that I no longer believe; life evidence to the contrary is overwhelming.

Truly I do not know how to break free from bondage. Or, I have forgotten. The result is the same. I no longer remember how to be free, only survive.

I would like to be shown how to be free. Wonder whether it has anything to do with the F word.


A gadzillion times harder in every respect than that other F word. (“Fuck,” not “freedom,” just to be clear.)

The Good List

The good list for today, Tuesday, Oct. 14:

1. The (very) reluctant and displeased willingness of my boss to allow me a leave of absence on short notice that I need.

2. The shit that came out of my client’s mouth and shared with others behind my back (a) being overheard by me in a moment of perfect timing and (b) occurring at my shift’s end, freeing me to get away ASAP rather than endure the day.
3. A gift that allows me to take a leave of absence. So needed. So dare I say deserved? I dare not yet sure would like to believe it.

4. Freedom from my client, the darkness and the bondage that is that job. At this deeply and uniquely special time.

5. Fine weather. Mighty fine! I marvel each day at the sun and blue sky (in majority). Except to never shake off fully the deep deep doldrums and depression wrought by the Pacific Northwest climate. Might as well ask one to forget his or her worst nightmare. Which makes each day in Colorado all the more blessed.


Seeking Good

Some call it a Gratitude List. I’m calling it the Good List. Those things which are pleasing at the beginning or end of my day.

1. Music.

2. Pandora on the iPad. Call it music on the move or portable music or music wherever you are, the iPad seriously rocks. And Pandora isn’t far behind!

3. Herbs. Herbal teas. Herbal supplements. Herbal concoctions. Herbs to bring balance. Herbs to cleanse, to fix what ails, to restore and return harmony that’s missing. My affinity with herbs is no small matter. I can easily imagine being an herbalist in another lifetime!

4. The sun. Colorado sunshine. Oh what a difference is a world with sun compared to one without! The dreary gray cold damp Pacific Northwest. Not gonna go there, not now, figuratively, or again (literally). What a rotten miserable place for a body that needs warmth and, well, sun! So yeah, sun remains consistently high on the Good List.

5. A residence absent the roommate. Having the place — and space — to myself is a really really good thing. Really good. In fact, our shared cohabitation functions best with minimal interaction. Best is me here and roommate back with his girlfriend, which seems to be the case. Let’s hope it continues.