Tools of the trade

By Mir
September 23, 2005
Category Job? Huh?

I’m so glad to have a keyboard with which to communicate. It’s a beautiful thing. And also, I am currently choking on my tongue–which I swallowed a few minutes ago–so talking isn’t really an option right now. No talking. Just breathing. I’m concentrating a lot on the breathing thing. Other people go out on Friday night, or whatever, but NOT ME. I sit at home and transcribe tapes and shop for office supplies and calculate how many months’ worth of groceries I just spent. I’m a rebel that way.

Once I’m all done hyperventilating maybe I will tell you all about the scintillating life of being self-employed. It is JUST as glamorous as I knew it would be! And I took to it like a duck to water. Or, the way a duck would take to water if swimming caused said duck to squeal with glee but occasionally swim back over to the shore to hang out in the reeds and breathe deeply into a paper bag. It’s just like THAT.

[Digression: I have to go have one of those “please review my work search records and teach me how to be more employable” meetings at the Unemployment Office next week. This makes me grumpy. I’m told they are unimpressed by contract work (in general) and even though I earned too much money to collect this past week (and will collect an adjusted amount, next week), they are likely to scold me for not having found full-time work yet.

Because there are SO MANY jobs available for full-time writers, and probably I am just not trying hard enough. Why look, right here on a popular job board are a million postings for registered nurses! They probably write stuff sometimes! Why am I not applying for those positions?? Also, more and more women are becoming truck drivers!

Maybe it won’t be that bad. At least it’s a one-on-one meeting, as opposed to the “benefits orientation” session I was forced to attend where I was actually frightened by most of the people around me.]

So, remember when I bought my business cards? And I was all excited about them? That was great, because business cards do not cost very much money. And then, yesterday? When I bought my adorable teeny weeny tape recorder? Also fun, and relatively cheap. Oh, I bought new printer ink, too. With these in hand, I pat myself on the back. “Self!” I praise, “You are SUCH A PROFESSIONAL! Business cards! Handheld tape recorder! The ability to print… STUFF! Many, many Tic-Tacs in ASSORTED FLAVORS! You are practically an EXECUTIVE!”

I may have had a cup of coffee or six before I had that conversation with myself.

I understand how important it is to have the right tools at your disposal. This is why I have assiduously continued to accumulate many pretty shoes with pointy, pointy toes. (It’s a well-known fact that men advance in business by being assholes, and women advance by wearing expensive footwear and not having visible panty lines.) But the thing is, if I’m going to be working from home, the shoes… well… *sniffle* the shoes are really just moot. I have been working my ass off, and most of the time I’m barefoot. I enjoy being barefoot; don’t get me wrong. But it leaves me needing to pay attention to other areas of ammunition.

For example! I have a lovely little laptop computer. I pink puffy heart it. The kids have only stepped on it a couple of times. And, sure, the battery died about 5 seconds after I received it, but it works great when it’s plugged in. So. I also have a desktop computer, purchased sometime during the Carter administration, I believe. (I kid! Clinton administration, actually.) My desktop computer is dying a slow death. It’s sad. Sometimes the video driver goes on hiatus for no apparent reason. Sometimes I open more than two windows at once and it freezes, because WHY would you want more than two windows?? And my personal favorite: Right after I bought the printer ink, the computer decided the printer doesn’t exist. Print? Print where? Please try again; except don’t bother because that won’t work, either.

This was all well and good when I went into an office and sat down at a fancy computer every day. Now that I’m being paid to produce work and not either lose it inside the dinosaur computer or discover that there’s no room for it on the portable’s smallish hard drive? Hmmmm. Seems like I should have a dedicated work computer. And then I could take the current desktop out back and shoot it… you know, put it out of its misery.

After several weeks of comparison shopping and an entire week of putting the machine I picked into my virtual shopping cart and then staring at the screen until I blacked out from anxiety, I bought my new work computer tonight. I could tell you how much I spent but then I’d have to go throw up. It’s, um, a tax write-off. I do hereby solemnly swear to only use it for work, on the condition that enough work comes my way to actually pay for it. Please. Amen.

This whole leap of faith thing is NEVER-ENDING. Gah. Enough already. Because you know, it seems to me that people who are essentially unemployed should not be buying fancy new computers that they probably cannot afford. It implies a full measure of either confidence or stupidity; and NO, we are not going to discuss which one, because I am well-acquainted with the latter and have only a passing familiarity with the former. Plus I am just now breathing somewhat normally again.

The Tic-Tacs, by the way, make for a very minty and refreshing experience when your head is inside a grocery sack.


  1. Steve Sherlock

    Ah, eternal wisdom is revealed in the line: “It’s a well-known fact that men advance in business by being assholes, and women advance by wearing expensive footwear and not having visible panty lines.”

    That explains why I have not advanced much! I generally reserve my asshole attitude for the few people close to me who really understand (and thereby) would excuse such behavior.

    Hey Babe, walk over here in those pointy shoes. I need to check out your VPL.

  2. Karen

    Even *I* freeze when I open more than two windows! (Lame joke, but it sounds as though even a lame smile might help your mood today.)

  3. Amy-GO

    There, there. You’re pretty even without the pointy shoes. :)

  4. Marti

    Oh child, where do I begin? LOL

    I am doomed. I cannot wear pointy-toe shoes-for-success, because they invariably come equipped with spike heels, and my broken-reinforced-with-metal-rods ankles will rust at such altitudes.

    My computer only sees my scanner when I am copying a 99 cent puzzle lid to sell on E-Bay. When I desperately need copies of my tax forms to keep me out of jail, the reply is “No scanner found”.

    My children share my computer so there is a good chance the business documents I send out will have a goth or anime’ logo on them.

    Wanna go get drunk? LOL

    I remain optimistic and suspect you do as well. Which is pretty sweet, because it pisses off those who wish us doom.

    Best wishes to you!

  5. Bob

    I just bought my daughter a laptop for college – a Mac powerbook – and I lust mightily after it. I bought my son a laptop last year for college and since it was a windows platform I laughed in derision out loud and only quietly suffered mild amounts of lust for it I am writing this on a 6 year old iMac that creaks in its old age (like me) and will have to wait until next year to be retired.

    (I could only afford offspring computing due to 20 year old savings bonds as I certainly don’t have the moola to go around buying such exorbitant divices for myself.)

    Take several deep breaths and tell yourself that the new computer will pay for itself the first time it doesn’t crash an hour before a critical deadline.

    Of course, I forego mentioning that you could have gotten a larger hard drive for your pink puffy hearted laptop which would have been cheaper……….

    Well, i could have foregone…..

  6. honestyrain

    6 years ago i quit my job to stay home and write. brave to be sure but my husband was still working so, you know. nine months after i quit, so did he. he came home one afternoon and that was that. we’d talked about his quitting and i knew it was coming but hearing him come in the back door at 1:20pm was…well, thrilling, actually. he has been working freelance since and making more money every year.

    i firmly believe in the leap of faith way of life.

    i, for my part, haven’t done much writing because i stopped to have kids but am now getting back to it. not only with the blog but i have also restarted novel efforts and look forward to the completion of my first draft by spring.

    you go girl. get that computer and kick some ass.

  7. ben

    Okay, cuz I’m a nerd, I’m gonna be the first one to ask you what you got?

    Pentium 12? Flatscreen? CD burner? Awesome speakers so you get surround sound while you’re writing?

    C’mon, spill.

    (for reference, our main criteria for a new computer was that it could play Stack the Cats without crashing)

  8. Cindy

    Yeah, we want details! What did you get? I recently bought a new, custom built laptop with mega upgrades and love it. I even kissed it when it was delivered!

    Of course, my laptop is used mostly for checking email, web surfing and downloading music. You are going to use yours to do grown up stuff. Hmmph! Maybe I’ll do grown up stuff when I turn 40 next year.

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