Tag Archives: Freelance Life

Licensed to Pout

I apologize. Habitually. When people cut me in line even though I’m standing in the right place. For not having correct change. For having to stop for water on a 10-mile run.

Somehow along the path of a private school education and Southern Baptist upbringing, I adopted a generalized attitude of guilt over everything. I’m in the way. I’m making this harder for someone else. They might be inconvenienced.

In many instances, this guilt can manifest as empathy, selflessness and generosity. All uppers. Go me!

But lately, always maneuvering around other people’s needs has prevented me from recognizing that sometimes I need to be maneuvered around. Frankly, I am in an overwhelming mom-worker-wife-life season, and I am just too tired to keep apologizing for it.

I am the spaghetti in this analogy.

I am the spaghetti in this analogy.

The whining is forthcoming. Pretend there’s no Syria or shutdown or Jenner divorce and play along.

On top of a stupid long list of things that will not be accomplished this century, I lost my wallet this weekend. In addition to 10 p.m. Sunday night calls to cancel credit cards, I had to add a trip to the DMV to my to-do’s. Let’s stop here and share that collective joy that abounds with an impending trip to a government office.

I worked through the morning, and by the time I looked up DMV offices and requirements, I realized the license services were only open for another 30 minutes. Foregoing a shower (shock) and full face license photo makeup, I ran out the door hoping to make it.

The closest office is in a somewhat questionable area, but is also one of the busiest. I’ve made the rounds, I know. After I got my number, I found the chair least likely to attract a chatty fellow license seeker. Strangers are weird and I’m about 80% sure I’m allergic to them. I brought my Kindle and mentally braced to camp out for awhile. The first number I heard was G657. I was G670, and the letters went all the way from A to H. Oy.

Before I even scrolled through my Facebook feed, the loudspeaker shouted, “G-six-seven-zero is now being served at window 19.” I waited until the number flashed on the board and I had triple checked my ticket before walking cautiously up to the counter.

I had it formed, already swirling around on my tongue, about to let it fly out like vomit. I’m sorry.

I’m sorry your machine malfunctioned?
I’m sorry I followed every procedure down to the letter?
I’m sorry other people may be unhappy?

There was nothing to be sorry about. So I decided I wasn’t sorry. I gave the woman my ticket and told her honestly how long I’d been waiting when she asked. She knew there was a mix-up. She also knew it wasn’t my fault. So she asked me the string of questions (No, I am not currently addicted to drugs. No, I do not toss Cheerios into the cup holder of my child’s car seat on the interstate.), snapped my picture and handed me a new license. Less than 10 minutes. No apology necessary.

For one time in what’s been feeling like many, many times of unfavorable adjustments, this was a little break in my favor. At just the right moment, for just the right person.

After the laundry overflowed out of the hamper preventing the closet door from shutting,
after a conference call was 30 minutes late,
after I realized I had no cash or cards to go grocery shopping,
after I spilled half of Addison’s still-raw eggs on the floor,
after she pooped THREE times before 9 a.m. and I had to change her while she sobbed desperately because of the most intense diaper rash ever,
after cramps and hormones beat the reason and sanity out of me like baseball bats,
after an email reminded me I completely forgot about a project with a looming deadline,
after all those normally-I-can-muster-some-perspective-but-not-today moments,

I really didn’t want to be sorry that I was G670. Or go sit back down.

So I cashed in that ”lucky” ticket today. And I think I may take some time to hang on to being G670.

Empty-handed but unapologetic.
Simply asking for what I need.

And saying thank you to all those people who smile and say, “That’s ok, honey. It’s not your fault.”

(Or who bake me cookies or let me cry in their gelato. Thanks for that, too.)

Nothing but love for the DMV from now on.

Nothing but love for the DMV from now on.

Girls Week

Last week Clayton attended a conference for work in Chicago. He was gone Tuesday through Saturday. I survived, and so did my child, but just barely.

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The biggest challenge was a freelance project I’d agreed to the previous week without carefully reading the last sentence in the email that said, “It’s going to be tight, but I think it’s doable.” “Doable” meant working through every nap time and after putting the peanut to sleep every night. Not impossible, but certainly stressful.

My mom was a saint the entire week and spent too many hours over here Tuesday pulling Addison’s fingers away from the electrical outlets they are so drawn to. I put that vintage desk in the guest room to good use. Clayton and I host a small group from our church every Tuesday night, so I called it a day early to clean up the house and run to the store for some snacks that no one ever eats. I threw dinner in the oven for me, fed Addison and found a t-shirt free of spit-up stains all in time to welcome the group at the door precisely at 7. Except there was no group at 7. Or 7:10. Or 7:20. Turns out they thought we’d canceled since Clayton was out of town. I drowned my disappointment in the hummus artfully displayed on the counter, gnawing on those few hours spent Swiffering up coffee spills on the floor that could have been spent working.

A computer

I spent Wednesday night at my parents’ house thinking the extra help with Addison would give me more time to work. My attempt at forethought and planning blew up in my face when Addison slept for two hours that morning. I’d already packed my computer in the car in hopes of a quick wake up and hit the road scenario. The reality was my pacing around the house aimlessly, “accidentally” dropping glass objects on the tile and nervously watching the non-productive time tick by.

After Addison finally woke up, I loaded up the kid, the dog, myself and 83% of all our belongings, and we trekked the 35 minutes to Wesley Chapel. My mom took over Addie duties and I got my work station all set up…only to discover I’d forgotten my laptop charger at home. No worries, I thought, I’ll just work until it dies. So I power up the trusted HP, and surprise—7% power remaining. Enough to move the cursor over about 1/8 of an inch before it shuts off.

A humiliating all-call on Facebook was useless, but luckily my dad had a charger at work he said he’d bring home. That still left us gals with three hours of time on our hands and no work to be accomplished. I nearly broke down. I wanted to, but my mom was close at hand and I didn’t feel like a pep talk, I just felt like chocolate. The realization that it was only Wednesday also played into the feeling that I was trapped in a never-ending week. I did end up getting a good chunk of the project completed once my dad came home and they tag-teamed Addison. They also did a great job of infant entertaining after dinner until it was time for her to go to bed.  

A ring

Being away from my own space proved even more stressful, so the three Noa ladies came back home on Thursday. I found time to sneak in the last portions of the big project, plus finish some smaller jobs that popped up in the inbox. I even managed to take Addie to her first baseball game that her Uncle Tony was coaching. The difficult-to-watch two hours of errors and restrained rage was a decent metaphor for the week I was having. I won’t mention the score, but Uncle T did not come out on top. 

I have to give a mama shout-out to my little girl because that kid slept like a dream every night. If I had to combine the tension of that week with two or three overnight wake-ups, I may have crumbled. Lugging her around the city probably aided in exhausting and confusing her throughout the day, so yeah, high-five to me for yanking any hope of stability away from my 8 month old. That seems to really tire them out.

A standing crib

In related news, I actually do know the exact location of the trash cans in the garage and which days all that garbage magically disappears from inside of them. I enjoyed two sweet potatoes in the absence of my potato-hating husband, and there was no one in my living quarters forcing me to share my sushi, ice cream or red wine. Or make judgments of how much of them I was consuming.

I don’t know how single parents do this day after day after day. My solace so many times throughout the week was looking at the calendar knowing, down to the second, when I has handing that baby over and clocking out of mom mode. My life is so very good, and ridiculously easy with the support system I have around me. A long list of people offered to help last week, so I knew that I had reinforcements whenever I needed them.

A abuelo

A beema

Still, Addison and I were both jazzed about Clayton getting back home, harmonica and all (don’t ask). She showed him just how much with a warm welcome from 2-4 a.m. that morning. I would have joined the party, but like I said: I was off the clock.

The only kind of housekeeping I do willingly.

Updates! After taking an industrial sized bottle of Pledge to the dust that had collected on that long lost Favorites page, I added a “Dear Addison” section for your (okay, my) reading convenience. I had to peel myself off the floor when I realized I had to copy and paste the Dear Addison part seven times. Seven months that girl has been around. Like a blink and an eternity all at once.

Oh, and I corrected two typos on the About page if you’re interested. Certainly made me do a little grammar dance.

That’s right—getting stuff done like it’s 12pm when it’s really 1pm. #daylightsavings. Sigh.

Let’s all celebrate some productivity up in here.gasparilla prof photo1

In transition

If Clayton and I were to write a list of all the major transitions we’ve undergone, are undergoing, and will undergo in a span of nine months, you might run out and fill the Xanax prescription for us. Looking at it on paper seems terrifying, which is why I’ve avoided it.

When we told people our plans—move from Virginia to Florida, get a new job, move in with my parents, buy a house, have a baby, reconcile the major political parties, decrease America’s dependence on foreign oil—we watched as their eyes grew wider and wider as the answer to their innocent question “what’s new with you guys?” grew ever longer. It was pretty unusual for us to have anything new, much less so much new stuff that people forgot the beginning by the time we made it to the end. We also had a sincere suggestion to “go ahead and sign up for marriage counseling.”

But today, sitting down in the middle of all the upheaval on my parents’ sunny patio, I don’t feel that weight. A little indigestion from the growing nugget, sure, but not the pressure that I expected.

And this is precisely why we are here, in a cramped bedroom in the house that holds decades of my memories. Because this place is safe. This place is comfort and warmth and shelter from that list that feels like it’s growing every week. We are checking things off, we schedule what needs to be done, make appointments to meet serious-sounding professionals in their offices to sign stacks of papers, make handfuls of phone calls to grown-up companies to be put on hold for 14 minutes and sit in new waiting rooms anxious to hear the steady, rhythmic, enchanting pounding of our coffee bean’s heartbeat.

On top of those necessities, we laugh with my brother and his girlfriend. We wonder what gourmet meal my father is preparing each night. I go shopping with my mother and spend afternoons with my grandma. I cuddle my best friend’s new baby every week and see him changing in my arms and see her as a beautiful mother with my own eyes. We get invited to Super Bowl parties. We meet family for birthday dinners on a Monday night and my husband and I giggle at baby names before falling asleep.

We are living. We are awake with new possibilities arising from familiar faces and places. We are rejuvenated within the blankets of support and encouragement that we haven’t felt for two years.

So I will trip over boxes tiptoeing to bed. I will work from a couch or dining room table rather than an office. I will wait to decorate a nursery. And my husband will play musical cars every morning that he is blocked in on the driveway.

Because this life is filled with so much love.

And this life is every single thing I was hoping for.      

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fashion show8

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clayton max edited

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Normally, I don’t wear pink.

But life is full of exceptions, now isn’t it? Sure wouldn’t be the first time I pretentiously turned my nose up at something only to find myself eventually embracing it.

Facebook. Emoticons. Drinking on the weekdays. All kinds of stuff, really.

Friday

Maybe it was knowing that Saturday morning I would be donning the brightest, most glaring shade of hot pink that kept me in an undeterred good mood Friday. Whatever it was, mama had a really, really great day.

It started with interviewing the world’s sweetest couple for an ad campaign I’m working on. Their spirits filled the room with joy, and when they told me they had just celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary, well, then I had to fight to keep myself together and not get all high-pitched-squeaky-baby-voice all up on them. I almost affectionately touched the woman’s cheek. Thank God I reeled that in. Also, they have a dog named Salsa. So yeah, I’m not exaggerating their awesomeness.

After filling out the necessary paperwork to officially adopt them as grandparents, I had another stop to make.

PA132308Got some sweet swag and my lucky bib number. Just kidding, 282’s not really my favorite number. It’s 337.

bib

I swear there’s an excellent explanation for that photo filminess. I’ll get to that in a minute. I fall in love with Williamsburg every time I head up there, and since I had to pick up my packet in the ‘Burg, I stayed there and worked for a few hours. Coffee and free wi-fi would make my day under normal circumstances, but where I headed next was anything but normal. 

Braving the expected crowds and snobby salespeople, I took myself to Verizon with my two-year old Droid. And then I took myself home with an iPhone 4s and made technological love to Siri. This is what happens when my husband leaves me alone to handle my phone upgrade. It’s his own fault. So that bib photo? The protective film is definitely still on the camera lens. I am so not ready to own an iPhone.

And maybe you have a lot of self-facing camera lens photos comin’ your way in the next few weeks. I just can’t stop.

Case in point:

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When I was in Williamsburg, I found an article I wrote in a local magazine! Of course the byline will tell you otherwise because copywriting is sneaky like that. I was pretty jazzed since it was so unexpected; I turn those suckers in and the powers-that-be make the publishing decisions.

So me, my article and my iPhone (probably going to stop capitalizing that “P” from here on out, fyi) hunkered down for a night of pre-race fueling with pizza and beer and Dateline. Love me some weekend Dateline mysteries.

It might help you to know that Clayton is on call this weekend, explaining his conspicuous absence from most of my life for about 72 hours. He had a brief spell free from the on-call chaos Friday night, so we slipped out and found a case for my precious Siri. I’d already dropped her twice. When we came back home, we made the regrettable decision to not park 2.5 miles away from our apartment on a public street and parked next to a curb in our complex. Not blocking anyone, just minding our own illegally parked business. That would be the beginning of the end of my good mood.

Saturday

Clayton’s phone rings at 1 a.m. We are all really happy about it; it’s so annoying how people’s life-threatening traumatic injuries are, like, so inconvenient for me. He needed to go to the hospital for a surgery. About two minutes after I hear the door shut, it opens again.

Clayton: Nat, did you move the car?

Me: What? Why would I do that? No.

Clayton: Crap. Then it got towed.

And that’s when I committed to never, ever, ever living in an apartment or townhouse complex again. Ever.

He didn’t have a choice to handle that little snafu at the moment, and I certainly wasn’t going to be bothered with the whereabouts of our leased motor vehicle during my beauty rest. But at 5:30 a.m. we had to deal with the situation because we needed two cars this morning. I sort of half dressed for the race, half didn’t brush my teeth, and we headed to the Land Where Reasonable Regulations Go to Die, aka the towing company storage yard. We made a pit stop at the ATM, of course, because tow companies only accept cash and profanity as forms of payment. After Clayton selected, “Other Amount” and typed “Firstborn Child,” we had enough to cover the fees for the four hours our car was professionally stored.

You’d think that I would harbor less resentment after having my car towed at FSU on the first day of every single semester for five years.

I had to get my sleepy tail home to finish prepping for the race (okay, to take more self portraits that I’ve since decided aren’t exactly high quality content). With the towing hold-up and my getting lost—don’t blame her, I didn’t ask Siri for help—I arrived at the race 15 minutes before the start.

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The run itself was gorgeous and brutal; nearly 4 miles of the 6.2 were on hilly trails. Williamsburg is pretty, but she sure is a beyotch to run with. Luckily, and without the intention of “training” for this race, I’d done a few trail runs since the half marathon, which I think made a huge difference. All time goals were kicked out the window along the first uphill stint on gravel, but at least I didn’t want to keel over at the end. Plus, there were walkers aplenty, so I finally wasn’t bringing up the rear of a road race.

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Since it was a 45-minute trek back home, I rehydrated while still in Williamsburg. Official race day tradition? Most definitely.

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Snippets

I have no long narratives to share with you at the moment, so all you get to munch on are snippets. Unless you’d like me to recount in expletive-laden detail about the debacle that was Florida State vs. Wake Forest. I didn’t think so.

I was escorted out of Ross by the security guard for having a smoothie. Apparently they now have a ban on food and drink? Maybe it’s only for drinks that are pretending to be food…? I know, I’m kind of a badass. And Ross really is the epitome of unforgiving high standards.

Why do all athletic shoe designers swear that chicks want pink, purple or pink and purple shoes? We’re not all six years old. I rebelled and shopped in the men’s section. Again, me = badass.

PA042273During the half marathon, I had to fight my shorts from riding up for the last four miles. They were quite stubborn about the whole thing. So I bought my first pair of running tights. That’s alotta spandex on alotta thigh. If you happen to see me plugging along out there, avert your eyes and we’ll both pretend nothing ever happened.

This sort of thing occurs on a daily basis. Please note Bryson’s stray left foot. He is so excited when Clayton gets home that he pretty much tolerates anything. The men in my life are weird. 

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And then last week I got a nice dose of Reality Check with a side of Humiliation. One of the reviewers of a brochure draft I wrote left this comment: “This is so wrong I don’t even know where to start.” Well done, me.

Office Space

I work from home. I only mention that again (and again and again and again) so that you don’t forget how awesome I am. Sometimes it can be hard to remember with all the time wasted on pictures of my dog and the disease-carrying insects he ingests.

I made a list of all the things I was going to miss about the charming old house we rented for a year. Close to the top of the list was having a dedicated office from which to read blogs, update Facebook, tweet, write blogs and work. When we moved into our current apartment, the second bedroom had to function as a guest suite, storage unit, angry spouse retreat and office. We straight up refused to unpack anything but the essentials, so there are scads of boxes stuffed into corners, under beds, in closets and on top of our kitchen cabinets.

Soon after we moved in, we had a fabulous visit from my brother and his gal pal that required the second bedroom to look and act like a guest bedroom. We left the room that way for awhile, and I spent the few weeks after they left trying to work from the kitchen table or from the couch or from a corner table at Barnes and Noble. Inevitably, though, I got distracted by pop-tarts steps away in the pantry or a nap on those comfy couch cushions or the “Us Weekly” steps away at B & N.

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I couldn’t pull the chair out from the desk far enough to actually sit like a human being and work. It was full on grasshopper style if I wanted to accomplish anything on my beloved thrift store desk. So one morning, still decked out in pajamas (because, really, when am I not?), I did a spontaneous room re-do.

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We have absolutely no motivation to actually nail holes in the walls and hang pictures, so that makes for even less distraction. Many an afternoon in our last house was spent dreamily admiring my husband’s blue eyes in our framed wedding photos. And also bawling over the cuteness of Bryson’s long gone puppy days.

The new “decorations” became every stranded throw pillow found around the house. I didn’t even know we owned so many; I’m pretty sure they started reproducing like rabbits as soon as we closed that U-haul door during the move.

So this is where you can picture me for mumblemumble hours each day. Livin’ the dream. And never spending working hours fashioning a Bryson fort from all those pillows.

Forget the drum roll. I’ll take a mojito.

Meet my baby. It’s not exactly what my mother has been incessantly praying for over the last three years (which is almost cruel considering how we told her she had a grandson and then introduced her to an untrained, 6-week old Bryson). It’s the lovechild of some serious site envy, one incomparable web genius/friend and the eerie shadows of my brain’s weird ramblings. And ta da, you have my new blog.

Because you’re so awesome…?

Ha. No. It’s so that I don’t lose out on jobs because the first posting that pops up is about killing mice in my apartment (get ready for an uncomfortable déjà vu post involving our new place).  For a long time I’ve been wanting to separate my “professional” information from my musings on everything else. I felt censored blogging on a site that was also serving to promote my freelance work.

So for the last few weeks I’ve been working with my pal Josh Blanco, who I have not forgotten is a Seminole at heart even though he lives all the way out on that hippie left coast in Seattle. He took my concise direction–“I think this is kind of neat. Ew, that’s not cute.”—and made a site that actually functions. A task that is light years over my head. So, all the credit really belongs to him. Here’s his site one more time in case you missed it.

Now what?

We still have some fine tuning, tweaking and jazz-ifying to take care of. No one is comfortable with all that gray. 

In the meantime, I write. Hopefully better. And more consistently. But let’s not get carried away in the excitement. Bottom line: the “good” stuff is here, folks. So save it, subscribe to it, share it, whatever. Just know that this is the place for lusting over caramel flavored coffee beverages, an amateur use of profanity and all the sarcastic morsels I can muster. Which is also the closest you will ever get me to cooking.

On the real

Family, friends, strangers and social media stalkers, thank you so much for reading.

Get the FDA on the Phone

I’m a writer. And not in the in-my-spare-time, when-I-need-to-use-profanity-privately kind of way. I am a writer in a totally legitimate, business meeting on the fifth floor, “what are your rates?” kind of way.

A few weeks ago I landed my very first freelance writing gig. I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that someone has offered to pay for my writing. This idea lodged in the recesses of my brain growing up, an abandoned dream when I got to college, a goal I set a year and a half ago that completely altered the course of my life– it’s actually here, in my hands, right now. And in a couple of weeks it will be replaced with a paycheck!

It’s been more than a little hectic trying to juggle my day job, my classes, and the writing project, but I can’t even think of complaining. A few nights in the past two weeks, I actually got home later than Clayton, which is unheard of since he started his residency job. I dont’ think he knew how to handle the role reversal; his confusion was cute.

To counteract the craziness, I had to start running again. And, though I had a very intense love affair with my Asics, a new obsession has entered my life. I like to call them the cure for my self-diagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder, or “the mopies,” as well as the answer to all the aches and pains that come with running on super high arches. Feast your eyes on these puppies:

Mizuno Shoes

Mine have red accents instead of blue. And they make me and my outrageously high arches very, very happy. I actually went to a running store and consulted a “professional” before deciding on these shoes. Who knew that your feet swell when you run and you may need to go up a size? After coming to terms with the fact that I needed a 9 1/2 and waiting for Clayton’s mocking laughter to subside, I pulled the trigger and paid more than I ever have for a pair of shoes. After three weeks of off-road and pavement running, my conclusion: MONEY WELL SPENT.