I Just Need to Vent

I don't know if other freelancers have this problem, but people seem to enjoy the assumption that my lack of commitment to one company means I instead exist to be at their beck and call, merely idling in the background until a crooked finger sends me scurrying forward, eager to serve. Excuse my language, please, but fuck that.

What makes me so incensed my eyeballs are twitching is that, for the past few days, I have been forced to do just that: wait. Since I've been back in Japan, I've contacted my various job sources, let them know I'm available, been offered work, and then been told, "Please wait. Indefinitely." Or, better still, "We've got a job for you," and then dead silence for DAYS. Urgh, now my butt is twitching in irritation as well. I despise these periods of work limbo. I know that if I'm patient, I'll soon be busy again, and probably whining about it like a little girl. But this, this is infinitely worse. Sitting around baking muffins (albeit pretty darn tasty ones) while I wait to be summoned does nothing but excite that squeaky-voiced, largely ignored sliver of me that isn't altogether satisfied with my peripheral life.

What is it about myself that reassures people: Go ahead and string her along! Really--she loves it! It's like a radiating aura that wraps around a person's conscience like swaddling and numbs them from feeling compunction. Summer vacation, after my second year in college, I was told over the phone by an editor of a magazine I badly wanted to intern with: "Please, come over to New York. We'd love to have you." Flew there and turned out what she meant to say was, "We've already chosen an intern, but we thought we'd hold you with false promises, as backup, just in case." This, people, is how I ended up subletting a small couch that literally filled the entire living room space of a miniature one-bedroom Chinatown apartment already occupied by two other people and found myself walking every inch of the city, begging for a waitressing job.

After days of rejections, I was mercifully taken in by a little Italian restaurant that served things like veal Parmesan, was entirely staffed by foreigners like myself (yes, of course we all had proper working visas), and was owned by a taciturn, older Italian gentleman, whose impromptu visits tended to send our manager into a bit of a pale-faced tizzy: "Quick! Get Mr. Calzone* his usual drink!" Hey, I wasn't going to examine the boss, who could instill terror simply by quietly eating pasta at a corner table, or the place's hiring policy too closely. I was just relieved as hell that someone had accepted my lightly tinkered resume (I wasn't 100-percent certain I'd wow them with my candy striping at Lynn Valley Home for the Elderly nor the instant mashed potato-scooping skills I'd honed while working at the college cafeteria) and was going to let me make some money--even if it would be solely from tips; no pay for the alien workers.

Although there's nothing scarier than a red-faced patron who blames you for the cook getting your clearly written order slip confused, it wasn't a bad job. When people got what they ordered, when they enjoyed the food, it was a pleasure hearing their compliments, even if I had nothing to do with it directly. There were four Ecuadorian cooks in the kitchen and they were surprisingly sweet to me, considering they acted like they didn't see or interact with women very often. I was fed plates of the best French fries I've ever had, fresh out of the fryer and so hot and crisp they sizzled as they made contact with your tongue. And at the end of the night, I walked home with my tips weighing down my pockets in a manner that at least reassured, even if it could not soothe the sharp panic that an entire summer of resume-building opportunity was being squandered.

Twinkling memories and my current joblessness aside, the weather has been depressing the hell out of me. Dirty-white skies that make you squint. Oozing, streaking rain. A neither-here-nor-there temperature that has me sweating in my pajamas and thus forcing me to adopt an in-house attire of knee socks, my husband's board shorts (which have a soothing "support" netting that's supposed to hold a guy in place, and seems to work the same way for my thighs, so that's nice), a camisole, and cardigan--all of which looks as stupid as it sounds; just ask the construction worker dude dangling outside my window who gets the best view of my latest ensembles.

Oh, did I forget to mention that? They've been upgrading the outer facade of our apartment building for months. This means scads of construction workers running about, drilling things, appearing suddenly on my balcony by way of the jungle gym of scaffolding wrapped around the building. Best of all is the magical white netting stretched across the crisscrossing metal frames. It lets in the rain but blocks out all light. This means, for months, my home has been steeped in eternal darkness--I can't even tell without running outside whether the day is sunny or cloudy, although with the weather lately being the bitch that it is, one can most usually guess.

I could actually live with the lack of privacy (reference: dangling construction workers outside window), the early-morning screeching and scratching, and the grey dust that hangs in the air and coats every surface. But I need my light. And can I just say that it sucks in an elephantitis way when one is cut off from one's own balcony and is thus forced to hang all of one's wet laundry inside one's dark, dank little apartment to--ha!--dry.

The final cherry of course is the man who roused me out of bed this morning to tell me that our place was dirtier, older, and more decrepit than they'd anticipated and all this sprucing up is going to stretch on an additional month--minimum.

Oh, wait, let's not forget the sprinkles on the sundae: I think my computer is dying. If I open more than one window at a time, my CPU usage suddenly shoots up to 100% and the hard drive starts humming, whining, and churning, louder and louder, like a vacuum cleaner whose bag is overfull and about to explode. It's doing it right now. It's extremely distracting. And annoying. If it doesn't break soon, I might have to take matters into my own hands.

But where would we be in life without a little extra chocolate sauce: My husband just received a wedding invitation from the friend who was best man at our wedding... But, wait. Where's my name? Yes, that's right, my babies. I'm not invited. Not that I give a bloody damn about attending some wedding for a guy that I don't know or really care about, but it's the principle of the thing. I'm the wife, for god's sake, not some girlfriend who might not last until the wedding day. And you know what else? This is--I swear--like the fifteenth wedding invitation from one of my husband's friends over the past few years that has excluded me. It's totally insulting or something. Or maybe I'm just irate become of my stinking moaning computer. And the lack of vitamin D from insufficient sunlight. And all that other stuff.

Okay, I swear I'm done. And if anything else annoying happens in my life, I'll spare you the details.

*This person's name has been changed to protect... someone.

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Hey Rachel !
Oh i feel for you! Hear hear! God reading your story about that editor up in NY, just makes me mad. How can people live with themselves like that? Where has all the professionalism and heart gone to?
I don't really like freelance work when it is my "main" work. Have you thought about working somewhere else in addition to your current freelance position?
Strange about the wedding invites being addressed just to your husband. Comes across a bit rude, if you ask me. But maybe the husband's name is the "unit of measurement for the entire family".
zen zen shirahen!

5/12/2006 05:50:00 PM  

Oh Rachel, I totally understand your craving for light. Remember that damn building construction next to my apt? I never knew if it was sunny or cloudy either!

but strange about the wedding invitation though. I could understand if he didn't know you, but heck he was the best man at your wedding you said?

5/13/2006 12:50:00 AM  

Ouch! Sorry to hear that things suck at the moment.

When I was first in DC I had like three people tell me after job interviews that they would definately 'call me to decide on my start date' only to dissapear into god knows where never to be heard from again. I have sworn that I will never be one of those people.

The wedding thing is weird. At our wedding we invited one person - he resoponded and scribbled that he would be bringing a guest - neither him nor his guest ever showed up but we still had to pay for their meals. If you want to get even with the un-friendly non-invitors I highly recommend hid strategy...it sure as hell pissed me off!

Good luck

5/13/2006 01:21:00 AM  

Hi e,
Thanks for the anger on my behalf at that horrible NY editor. I know, I don't know how she'd be able to hang up the phone after doing that to someone and blithely continue with her day.

Yes, people are always telling me I should get a more stable job, but unfortunately freelancing suits my current lifestyle best, and so I shouldn't really be complaining.

Hi Lynn,
Yep, you went through pretty much what I am right now, complete with powdery dust and everything.

Hi Jaime,
I know you will never be one of those people... But who knows? Maybe after a few years, you get jaded, you realize "That's life," and you find yourself having to lie and string people along because otherwise business wouldn't run smoothly? Maybe none of us yet fully understands what goes on on "the other side."

That would be pretty annoying, to have someone add a date to your  guest list and then not show up. Presumptuous, selfish, and uncaring.  

from Rachel

5/15/2006 01:16:00 PM  

Somehow, hearing about marriage and vows and being part of a couple, seem related to my blog abt a horrendous call I received today from someone's wife. Before you get huffy, no I ain't no third fourth or fifth party to anyone's marriage. I ain't done nuffink!

Also, I was just wondering, how do you do freelance writing?

As for invite thingie, yeah that sucks. It is too ingrained in us that you only attend a wedding if your name is on the card. And it is uber rude to send a card to a man without extending it to his wife.

5/17/2006 12:25:00 AM  

Hi CC,

Ack, been crazy busy but promise to go over to your blog and find out what all those mystic remarks about marriage meant... sooon...

I'm not a freelance writer. Please, girl (?)(I am assuming you're a girl, cause this blog don't seem to get any male readers), if I were a writer, um... I don't think... Okay, I don't even know what I'm trying to write, but, no, I'm definitely not a writer. See, witness my inability to write, right there.

I'm a freelance editor, and I got into it basically by writing to people and asking them if they need stuff edited. Very professional and all.


from Rachel

5/19/2006 01:05:00 PM  

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