Wednesday, February 7, 2018
I never quite remember that when I am finished with a big, intense push on a book project, or three, and then I am faced with a string of days stretching out before me and nothing I have to do, I crash. I wake up slow and realize the world is a dull gray and I wonder what I am doing with my life. I think about finding a job with a regular paycheck and mind-occupying demands, and then with a sense of defeat I face the reality that in my industry, no one is hiring anyone past their forties for anything full time. We cost too much. Our health insurance costs more, and heaven forbid we should retire on their dime. I drag myself to my desk and send out a few emails, rustling the freelance bushes diligently. It's not my nature or my comfort zone, but I make myself do it. My friend calls to tell me about the fantastic new book project she just got tapped to do, and I try to sound excited for her, because I am happy for her, I really am, but I put down the phone feeling hollow, wishing I could make a living wage working in a flower shop or maybe a movie theater painted a royal shade of red.
I lay in bed googling "career change ideas" on my phone. Outside, the snow was swirling down lightly, the ground already white, and I remembered, as I always do in this hushed kind of snow that it looked just like this on the morning after my mother died. I miss her most when I am not working, when my mind is a yawning space, and rude intruders can march on through.
How is it that I have so little imagination about what to do with my freedom? Isn't this the life people dream of? Instead, I clutch, worrying that the lack of work will stretch on indefinitely. I do have payments due for all three of the projects I just completed, not enough to see me through the year, but enough to carry me till the weather turns warm. I don't know when I will see those payments, though. They could be delayed for months, which is another lovely feature of the book business. It's hard to describe how I'm feeling exactly. My throat feels tight with what might be fear, insecurity, loneliness, loss. My eyes water for no reason. I feel like a failure in ways that count, unable to push myself out of the miasma and engage with all the other possibilities of this day.
Maybe I should volunteer with an immigrants rights group or something. There's a thought. Something useful.