How to Deal with Freelancing Uncertainty Explained via Vanderpump Rules GIFs

I feel like a broken record, but hey there. I know, I know. I’ve been MIA in the blogging world.

tumblr_inline_nzwd7zjvxk1s22cpf_500

Well, I am contributing to blogs, but they’ve been on behalf of clients. Not this blog. This blog has been neglected, like a lonely, unwanted redheaded stepchild.

Which is part of the “problem” and a good problem to have…..I’ve got clients and they need words!

But I miss writing on this blog all the time. There’s hardly a day that passes that I don’t think of or run across something that I think would be blogworthy. Or, more likely, something that I think I’d like to remember in the future and that I don’t trust my rusty, old brain to remember.

Throughout my teens and 20s, I wrote in my journal pretty much every night. I still have a lot—although not all–of them. Mostly, I have the ones from my late 20s. And they are hilarious and cringeworthy and poetic and wonderful—all at the same time. It’s a regular, low-rent, pre-social media version of Vanderpump Rules in there. I can usually only read a couple of entries before I become exasperated or embarrassed by the whole, ultra-meta exercise, but nevertheless, I’m so glad I have them and can refer back to them. And there are actually some really beautiful and moving bits in there that I’m really proud of, although those are the least likely items to ever be shared.

Anyway, now to the present. Or, actually, to thoughts of year end. As 2017 closes, I’ve been thinking a lot about how the past year has gone, especially professionally. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster career-wise, to say the least.

getting real

I guess if I had to sum up 2017, I would sum it up this way: How comfortable am I with uncertainty? And also, because I’m not in this alone: How comfortable is my partner with my work uncertainty?

The first two years of my freelance career were pretty dang awesome. I had a lot of former colleagues sign up as clients right away and I am so, so grateful for that. I was also smart enough to take my own freelancer financial advice: cut way back on the spending and kick up the saving, so I was able to put aside a good chunk of rainy day funds.

2.-James-Kennedy-

So, when a client decided not to renew my contract at the beginning of the year, I didn’t stress too much about it. I figured I’d find some other clients, and while I certainly have, they definitely haven’t been the lucrative, retainer-based client that I’d lost.

Another regular client has scaled back their needs quite a bit (but is still providing some work) and a couple of others who dropped off were never really consistent anyway, so again, I didn’t sweat it. I thought I’d just kick up the networking and new clients would be lining up.

a catch

It wasn’t exactly like that. It took a while to line up new clients and there has been a lag while we got up and running on projects and another lag between when I turn an item in and when I get paid.

For the first time since I started freelancing, I felt like I was churning and churning output and not feeling financially secure. For the first time, I had to dip into my rainy day fund to pay myself, which, mentally, that’s fine, that’s what it’s there for, but is still a bit scary nonetheless. Not just for me, but for my ever-patient, ever-supportive boyfriend. There were unspoken questions that hung in the air between us during every conversation about my money and freelancing: What’s my plan? How many months would I dip into my savings? Should I start applying for a steady job?

Luckily, it hasn’t gotten to that point. Slowly but surely, things have started to pick up again. In the past six months, I’ve taken on a variety of new projects – small ones that are big lifts with low pay but satisfying in other ways, medium-sized ones that are not the most exciting in scope or topic, but pay well and are consistent, and a large-sized project that is scary and challenging and is stretching my skills as a writer.

When I talk to other people who are looking to get into freelancing, one of the first questions they have is “how do you balance your projects so you aren’t taking on too much and still making enough?” I definitely do not have the answer to that. Three years in, I’m still figuring it out.

Right now, I’m saying yes to almost every project I get offered. I know that’s not sustainable long term and some difficult decisions will have to be made at some point. But for now, I’m going full throttle. As a result, this blog will get updated when I can. In fact, I’m also trying to set a better work schedule for myself in 2018, and blocking off time for blogging is definitely one of my work schedule goals. We’ll see.

cautiously optomistic

So, back to my 2017 theme: how comfortable am I with uncertainty? Throughout this slow summer, I discovered that I am surprisingly comfortable with uncertainty. Blame it on my nomadic, gypsy childhood, or the fact that I’ve had to pull myself up by my bootstraps more than a few times in the past, but something makes me sure that I’ll figure it all out. That doesn’t mean I don’t have sleepless nights and anxiety attacks over all this uncertainty, but I just believe in myself. And so does my wonderful life partner/manpanion and boyfriend, who actually might believe in me even more than I do, and for which I am also very grateful.

mink lashes

Reality TV Time: Below Deck Mediterranean

My travel-buddy-for-life XFE and I just got back from a soccer roadtrip through the South, which was basically 3,000 miles of varying degrees of traffic and highways broken up by stops for soccer (go Tottenham), kitschy tourist locales (I’d never been to South of the Border, but I have now), barhopping at country honkytonks (Nashville might be my new favorite place ever), ice cream from gas stations (literally, every day) and tons of Southern food (hello pimento cheese)—all in all, pretty dang awesome.

But before we start down that 3,000 mile road, can we please just talk for a minute about Below Deck: Mediterranean? Because the reunion is tonight and I. Have. Thoughts.

below-deck-mediterranean-season-2-travel-photos-bobby-07

First of all, killing me with those beautiful Croatian backdrops there, Bravo.

below-deck-med-croatia

We went to Croatia in 2013, including Split and Dubrovnik, which are both prominently featured on the show. It was amazing to see the same medieval streets again on the TV screen and it really, really made me want to go back.

Nighttime in Split, Croatia
One of our 2013 photos

In fact, there was one scene where they went to pick up some guests from their hotel right outside of Split instead of at the dock. And wouldn’t you know it, they were actually picking up the guests from the same hotel we had stayed at, Le Meridien Lav (scene of the infamous French fry décor).

So yes. Killing me. Making me want to book another trip immediately.

But, more importantly, I think this was probably my favorite season of Below Deck. And that’s because I felt like this season really shined a light on the social hypocrisy that exists when it comes to gender stereotypes.

malia-below-deck-wes-adam.jpg
Love triangle, cruising style.

You already know what I’m talking about. There is, of course, the Malia-Adam-Wes love triangle. I cannot believe how much grief that poor girl got. And for what? For casually dating/getting to know two guys and figuring out which one she might like? Guys do this all the time and no one bats an eye about it. In fact, I believe Mr. Andy Cohen has a whole other show on one of the main networks where contestants date (and sometimes even kiss) three different people in the course of a week!

I was also very shocked that it wasn’t just the aggrieved, jilted Adam who was giving Malia grief. It was the other male deckhands and even the female stews. Hey ladies, how about you stop clutching your pearls over whether Malia is kissing two grown men and giving Malia a high-five for evening up the score a bit. #sistersdoingitforthemselves

Below Deck M

And Adam, maybe you should go check out this museum in Zagreb dedicated to broken relationships. You could have a good cry, donate that hat you lent to Malia, and then maybe some healing can begin.

Below Deck Mediterranean in Croatia
Same street in Split we were on.

I’m actually more bothered by the fact that they’re all co-workers. I’m a firm believer that you should not poop where you eat and dating co-workers falls into that category, which is why I’ve never dated a co-worker. (I’ve also never dated a boss and Wes was a blind idiot for making Malia his second-in-command over Bobby, who clearly has more experience).

Then there’s the whole Hannah-passenger-Jason and Bobby-passenger-Paola business. Again, do I think any of them should be smooching on passengers/clients? No, absolutely not. But the hysteria that surrounded Hannah’s transgression compared to the virtual shrugging of the shoulders when Bobby lurked (multiple times!) on his Tinder match (dude, what are you doing checking Tinder when you don’t even have the night off?) was so annoying and hypocritical.

Hannah and Jason on Below Deck
I will give you credit, Hannah: If you’re going to break the rules, a good-looking millionaire is probably a good route to take.

Even Max admitted to how hypocritical his reaction towards the exact same situation involving crew getting involved with clients was when Bobby went creeping downstairs to get a smooch from a girl who may or may not have been a paid companion of the primary.

jerry and some of his ladies
Jerry the charter primary and some of his..ahem…guests.

Anyway, it was a great season and hopefully, there will be more discussion of this sexist hypocrisy business at tonight’s reunion. After all, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right? Or, as the Croatians say: Velike ribe male proždiru (big fish devour the small. I’m not sure that actually applies here, but I wanted to include a Croatian proverb).

bobby below deck
Bobby learning how to use an iPad (with an assist from the more tech-savvy Bugsy).

 

Where to Safari? Tanzania or South Africa

It’s the question that everyone asks when they hear about our recent African safari.

tracy-flick

No, not I packed for essentially three weeks of travel (although, that would be my first question and the answer is: not that much). It’s not even whether we ever got bored of seeing many of the same animals day after day (answer: nope, not at all).

The question is: which African safari destination did we like better? Tanzania or South Africa?

img_4952

The answer is a bit complicated. Actually, it’s not that complicated for me. It’s just that it’s a different answer than my travel-companion-for-life, XFE, and it always feels a tiny bit awkward when we don’t necessarily agree. Especially as he is the one who does most of the travel planning. It makes me feel like I’m being slightly ungrateful of all his hard work or something.

Anyway, XFE liked the Serengeti (Tanzania) slightly better. I preferred Sabi Sands (South Africa). Which is just fine. I don’t think either destination is going to pack up their tents and call it a day based on our meager little preferences. And guess what? Neither of them suck. Like, at all. So don’t worry. No bad decisions here.

img_4230
Safari in Tanzania or South Africa? They both beat a handful of poop.

Look, the Serengeti is beautiful. Vast grass plains that go on forever and ever. Little purple and white “tissue” flowers signaling the approaching of spring. Rocky outcroppings that allow animals to hide in plain sight. Completely empty savannas with just a single tree providing shade for a couple of leopard brothers. The viewing is plentiful and easy.

img_4581

And, as far as sheer numbers of animals, you cannot beat the Serengeti. You don’t just see one lion, you see a whole pride of them, scattered out in a dry river bank, nursing their babies and snoozing and washing themselves and just generally being cats. The Serengeti has the Great Migration, and herds and herds of wildebeest participating in a truly awe-inspiring, bucket-list experience. We saw plenty of everything, especially the Big 5. (But between the two destinations, we saw the Big 7 – that’s the Big 5 plus cheetah and African wild dog).

img_4603
A whole bunch of hippos in the Serengeti.

We also saw plenty of death, which bummed me out and contributed to my personal preference for Sabi Sands.

But actually, for me, it comes down to the focus on conservation, which varies greatly between the Serengeti (a vast, open public park) and Sabi Sands (a private reserve set in the midst of a public park).

img_4303
A couple of young Sabi Sands lions, approximately 18 mos old. They had been part of the Ottawa pride. They’re mother had been killed by a hyena (!), but they were adopted and raised by the rest of the pride. Our guide Stefan knew all of this.

In Sabi Sands, the drivers and guides know the animals—they know who their parents were, they’ve given them names, they have whole identity kits on each of them and they have spent years acclimating the animals to their human sounds. They approach new or unknown animals very cautiously and respectfully, so as not to scare them.

img_4285
Making friends with a new group of skittish rhinos in Sabi Sands.

The guides in Sabi Sands also coordinate over the radio so that there aren’t too many vehicles converging on an animal at once—a vehicle will drive up, spend a few minutes viewing the animal and then back out. And they only drive off the established trails when they’re chasing a Big 5 animal.

img_4662
Sleepy cheetah in the Serengeti

The Serengeti is a bit more casual, much more Wild West, if you will. And the guides there are a lot more focused on making sure you (the paying and tipping customer) get your NatGeo-worthy photo, rather than the comfort of the animals. For example, when we rolled up on some sleeping lions one day, our guide began clapping his hands to get the lion to wake up and look up, so we could get a better picture. We assured him that that was not at all necessary and to just let the lion be.

img_4914
Believe me: there was more than just the one other vehicle.

In addition, there are a lot more vehicles around in the Serengeti, including all sorts of private guides from outside the park. So there’s no coordination amongst them. The day we finally found black rhinos still makes me cringe, as about half a dozen (at least) trucks encircled the two rhinos. Even though most everyone kept their distance (to some extent), I still felt like we were pinning them in and they really had nowhere to go (they were trying to retreat back into the bush and trees along the river bank behind the trucks–including ours).

img_4822
Serengeti family. No names, but lots of babies.

The guides in the Serengeti also do not know the names or lineage of the animals, and in fact, when I asked about the name of our first lion sighting, I got a bit of a strange look. And they definitely drive off the trails quite a bit, in pursuit of any animal. And I do mean pursuit. A couple of times it felt (to my sensitive soul, at least) like we were chasing animals, which I did not like.

img_4979
Mom coming to the rescue of a couple of young cheetah brothers we went offroading to see in the Serengeti.

There are a few other things: I much preferred the guides in Sabi Sands. They were knowledgeable and excited every day. Both locations are a little difficult to get to, but Tanzania was definitely more difficult. I also liked the safari style of Sabi Sands–morning game drive, break in the afternoon, evening game drive. There were no nighttime game drives in Tanzania, so it was an all-day safari drive. Although, eating breakfast and lunch out in the wild in the Serengeti was amazing in its own right.

img_4426
Leopard climbing up the tree for the snack he’d saved (upper left, hanging). He had a name, I think it was Dayone? Definitely not Scotia. She was a female.

But for me, it ultimately comes down to the entirely different focus—animals first or clients first. Neither is wrong, but I definitely preferred one approach over the other.

Plus, Sabi Sands = honey badgers!

RIP: Unknown Search Terms

What a week, huh? Kray up here in tha DC, y’all, what with the government shutdown and all the crazy effects of that — veterans storming World War II memorials, DC metro saying it will run fewer train cars, and, worst of all, no panda cam at the National Zoo. Then there was that whole crazy car chase/shooting business yesterday.

How can you be so cruel, Congress?
How can you be so cruel, Congress?

All of that (plus the end of “Breaking Bad” — sooooo good; and total work insanity), has distracted us from a true travesty: the end of unknown search terms.

You see, one of the greatest and most amusing features of WordPress was a feature that rounded up terms used in search engines like Yahoo, Google and Bing, that somehow led people to your blog. For example, someone found my blog recently by searching for “grand theft auto widow.”

Anyway, this list of search terms brought me a ton of pleasure and laughs. Whenever I found a particularly weird search term, I would post it on Facebook or Twitter as a Totally Random Search Term that Brought Someone to thePoelog, also known as TRSTBS for short. And I would speculate exactly what kind of person would have been searching for that term. Here’s an example from September 11: Totally random search term that brought someone to thePoeLog “rat on a treadmill videos.” Welcome, Pied Piper in training.

Sadly, the search term feature is being relocated to a nice family farm out in the country, never to be heard from again. Here’s what WordPress says:

In September 2013 Google started to rapidly expand the number of searches that it encrypts, which results in a higher proportion of “Unknown search terms” in your stats.  According to some sources, this expansion will eventually result in encryption of all Google searches.  This is being done for privacy reasons by Google when someone searches at Google.com, before a visitor arrives at your WordPress.com site.  Therefore we don’t have any way to unhide the search terms.  We recognize this means a loss of stats information for you and we will look for other ways to show you how users arrived at your site.

Source: http://blog.hubspot.com/google-encrypting-all-searches-nj
Source: http://blog.hubspot.com/google-encrypting-all-searches-nj

Damn you Google! And Edward Snowden! And NSA, who really, when you think about it, started this whole nonsense to begin with. Listen, I got nothing to hide. If NSA wants to look at pictures of my chubby cat and whatever deliciousness XFE has made us for dinner, knock yourselves out. I live my life loud and proud.

However, other people do not really feel the same way I do and like their privacy to remain intact. But now, NSA, you’ve gone and made everyone all wild-eyed and outraged and who pays the price? Cultural observers such as myself who get a snicker out of people finding my blog while searching for “Kate Middleton porno.” (Can’t you just imagine their disappointment?)

kate compares

So far, however, I do have a list of the last month’s search terms that I’ve copied and saved. So, I thought we’d have a little Irish wake here, pour some wine (one for me and one for my fallen homies) and do a little Q&A using a small sampling of those last Totally Random Search Terms that Brought Someone to thePoeLog.

What to pack for doomsday — This is a very good question. Also, quite philosophical. On the one hand, does it really matter? After all, it’s doomsday. But, maybe our erstwhile searcher is an optimist and expects to survive and carry on the human species, perhaps with the assistance of one mighty fine Matthew McConaughey, for example. In that case, you might want to pack something lingerie, a nice sturdy box of wine, a sleeping bag, and a gun. The gun, mind you, isn’t to use on Matthew. It’s to protect Matthew from other the clutches of other lady survivors.

matthewut

How to get in touch with duck dynasty — Well, shouldn’t be too hard. West Monroe is a pretty small place. Population is only 13,000. I think if you hung around the Circle K long enough, you’re bound to run into one of those long-bearded fellas. Or, you could probably start going to their church. Or just stop by Duck Commander headquarters. They say on their website that, “We would be HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY for you to come by and say “HEY”.  You can even pay them to hang out with you, according to the website: for information on booking the Duckmen please visit WME Speakers at ducks@wmeentertainment.com

Is hilary from love it or list it pregnant — I haven’t been watching it lately (we’ve got three episodes hanging out on the DVR), so I don’t really know. But (and no offense here), she seems a bit old to be starting a family. I would guess the answer to this question would probably be no. Now Desta on the other hand, I believe she’s fairly recently married, so that would make sense. And if Hilary is pregnant, congratulations and good luck.

When is gold rush coming back on discovery channel — The Hoffman Knucklehead Crue are back on Discovery Channel on October 25. According to this blog: “In season four of GOLD RUSH, Todd Hoffman puts his life on the line, and asks his crew to do the same, braving malaria, poisonous snakes and quicksand to set up a mining operation in a patch of hostile jungle deep in Guyana, South America.” We saw a few preview episodes on Discovery a few months back, and it looks like plenty of bad decisions ahead.

Can you get brain eating amoebas feom bath water — I believe that should be “from” and my guess is yes. Brain eating amoebas are everywhere and we should all be afraid of them. Best to just take showers whilst holding your breath. But you might want to have a chair in the shower. If you pass out from holding your breath, amoeba-carrying water will definitely get up your nose and eat your brain.

Death and danger are everywhere. A pink floatie will not save you.
Death and danger are everywhere. A pink floatie will not save you.

When men reading shades of grey — I’m not familiar with the book “Shades of Grey,” so I’m guessing you mean “Fifty Shades of Grey.”  Also, this query seems to be missing some very important connecting words here, which changes the possible answers a bit. If you are asking “When do you find men reading fifty shades of grey,” then the answer is most likely when they think they won’t be caught, so maybe when they’re in the tub enjoying a nice bubble bath? If your question is, “what to do when men [are?] reading fifty shades of grey,” my advice is to avert your eyes and calmly and slowly walk away without drawing attention to the awkward situation. The obvious caveat here is that no man should be reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Even Matthew McConaughey.

I feel nervous about an upcoming trip — Totally understandable. Travel can be exciting but scary. After all, a lot of things can happen — the plane might crash, your luggage might get lost, the car rental place might be closed, the hotel might have lost your reservation, the roads might be blocked by protesting fishermen, you might eat bad salami and be violently ill for 10 days in one of the world’s great gourmet regions. Or, you might get a brain eating amoeba from taking a bath while reading “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

That would be a highway closed by protesting fishermen on our trip to Peru.
That would be a highway closed by protesting fishermen on our trip to Peru.

But, it’s all worth it because travel provides you with an opportunity to brag about all the great places you’ve been and all the great things you’ve seen on your very own blog. See? Don’t you feel better already?