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Posts Tagged ‘housewife’

Sleep is a wonderful thing, as long as you can get some. Supposedly, as we get older we tend to need less sleep, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for me. I’m still off-line for that nine to ten hours a shot that I was back in high school. Longer if I’m having a bad headache day. Which seems to be all the time anymore.

I’ve made several attempts over these last few “self” employed years to get on a consistent daytime schedule. My husband is up at the butt-crack of dawn to head off to his bruiser of a job and it just seems reasonable that his dutiful wife cleave to the same schedule so she can be the domestic goddess and have dinner waiting for him when he arrives home.

Okay, you can stop laughing now.

While most nights I do cook dinner – it does seem a fair exchange since he’s been out dealing with the nutjobs known as humans – I’m hardly the stereotypical housewife. Even that word – housewife – is an archaic annoyance to my ear. Yes, I handle the dishes and the laundry. Occasionally I even vacuum and dust. But that’s because I’m the one at home, not because I’m the woman. If our positions were reversed, my husband would be wearing the frilly maid’s outfit carrying the feather duster when I came in from the cold, cruel world.

Sorry. You probably didn’t want to see that.

Anyway, these last few months have been challenging in the sleep department. Though I have the new prescription for the post-detached retina vision, we haven’t had the money to get the new glasses. Every time we turn around it seems something else more important comes along to demand what few cents we have. You may think that getting new glasses is pretty important, and in the general scheme of things, you’re right. But when the choice is new glasses or fuel for the only vehicle that gets my husband back and forth to work, or new glasses vs. utility bills, well, you can probably understand why I’m still sitting here with an eyestrain headache.

Being a life-long migraine sufferer, my body has basically one response to any kind of head pain: shut down. I escape into something resembling sleep. But it’s erratic. I’ll be down for three or four hours, then up for anything from two to twelve hours, then down for twelve hours and up for two, down for four, up for six, etc., etc. Really hard to maintain any kind of schedule when you’re fine for a couple hours and then get hit by that dart from the big game hunter.

And even when I am “sleeping” I’ll wake up several times for various reasons, or no reason at all, so it never seems like I’m getting a full straight batch of time. Or I have really intense, detailed, bizarre dreams: the zombie apocalypse happens while my husband and I are at one of our historical events, and I’m stuffing loads of embroidery supplies into my back pack while my cats sit on my shoulders or run around my feet and my husband is loading ammo into something that looks like a cross between a bow and a sub-machine gun; aliens have attacked and I’m leading the resistance and trying to figure out how to escape from the skyscraper we’re trapped in that is now morphing into an old Victorian mansion that has money stuffed in the cushions of the couch but we can’t leave now because the party isn’t done and I have to find my husband; I’ve suddenly manifested superpowers but have to take a running jump to fly like Ralph in The Greatest American Hero and my telekinesis blows out the headlamps of a guy I’m mad at but then the dragons are trying to shoot me down and I land in a refugee camp where I’m looking for a bathroom but the only one I can find has its porcelain thrones at the ends of the arms of one of those spinning octopus carnival rides.

Yes, I’m well aware that I need professional counseling…

If it’s any consolation, it’s not any better when I’m awake. That’s why I’m a writer. And even though I have done very little with my current projects as far as putting things into words on the computer, I’ve actually accomplished quite a bit of problem solving for those projects. There are many times when I wake up and can’t get back to sleep because my brain is in overdrive. I’ve cleared up a couple issues I had with several of the characters in my current novel, which has also helped me figure out more of where that monster is going. It’ll mean a significant re-write of the 60K words I’ve already done, but, hey, I got nothing but time, right? And I’ve doodled with several short story ideas for the collection I’ve talked about e-publishing, which has given me an overall theme for it as well. I’m feeling pretty good about where I’m going with both projects, even if I’m way behind my original time line.

And so what if my sleep schedule doesn’t match everybody else’s? The only person I’m beholding to is my husband, and I make sure he’s taken care of. The only other thing I need to be concerned about is that I’m as productive as possible while I’m conscious, given the visual limitations I’m dealing with right now.

I spent a lifetime trying to do things the way other people told me they should be done, and it just didn’t work, and I just wasn’t happy. Now that I’m doing things my way, for me, I’m experiencing a lot more satisfaction with my life. So I guess the whole point of this meandering rant is, it’s your life, find what works for you.

And what works for me right now is another nap…

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I am self-employed these days, working out of my home. It’s a lot like being unemployed, in that I’m not making a whole lot of money. But the benefits are pretty nice. Thanks to my hard-working husband, I get room and board and medical coverage, and can work pretty much on my own schedule without some myopic manager hovering over my shoulder. Though sometimes the boss can really be a bitch.

But there seems to be a perception in our culture that people who work at home are lazy, bon-bon snacking, soap opera watching lay-a-bouts who only pretend to spend a few minutes actually doing something. At least, that’s a common feeling I get from people when I mention that I don’t work at a “normal” job anymore. Stay-at-home parents (which is an oxymoronic term, if you really think about it) have experienced this for decades. I’m not a parent, – largely because I’ve watched my friends and family and their children and learned the dangers – but there’s nothing easy or leisurely about keeping a household running while changing diapers, chasing toddlers and keeping your working partner fed.

I think it’s really about jealousy. While the “regular” workers are spending the average of 25-45 minutes (depending on your source) trapped in a compact car and stuck on a polluted freeway commuting to their offices, I spend about 30 seconds walking down stairs. I deal with cat toys and dog hair rather than flat tires and traffic. Instead of the drive through and $5 for one drink at Starbucks, I casually stroll through the kitchen and put on a pot of tea. For $5 I can have tea several times a day, every day, for a month. And my version of casual Friday consists of ditching the sweats and t-shirt in favor of pajamas. Given those points, I can understand what people might be seeing.

But the fun ends there. Being self-employed actually takes a ton of self-discipline and planning. While I’m good at the latter, I suffer from a dearth of the former. The first few months of unemployment were pretty much wasted because I had no exterior motivations to get anything done. I caught up on about 20 years of sleep and about a dozen DVD collections of shows I’d always wanted to watch but didn’t have the time for. I read a lot, too. And killed many, many things on my computer. But I didn’t really get anything constructive done. I might as well have been eating bon-bons and watching soap operas.

So I developed a new plan of action. It took some time, but over this last year I’ve settled into a routine that allows me to be constructive, while also allowing me to work on my normal nocturnal cycle.

Most days the alarm goes off at noon. Yes, you saw that right – I set an alarm. I’m very cat-like in my desire for sleep, so I have to set an alarm to get my ass out of bed and get to work. Here begins my first part-time job: housewife. I handle the chores, run any errands, pay the bills and deal with any other administrative tasks that might come up. I make sure my husband comes home to a cooked meal and we spend a little time together before he retires to his lair for the evening.

My second part-time job begins once the hubby is recharging for the next day. One of the things we’ve been doing over the last couple years is trying to build a side-business based on some of the skills we’ve developed for our historical re-enactment group. He blacksmiths, does decorative metalwork and builds armor. I do needlework and weaving. Because we’ve specialized in areas few others are handling, we’ve begun to develop a nice little following. So far it’s netting us enough money to keep us playing in our group. Pretty much the only social life we have at this point, so it’s been nice to do. We want to eventually get to where we have enough income from our “hobby” to live on, which means making a ton more stuff and then selling it. To that end, my evenings are spent either at a loom, or holding an embroidery hoop. Okay, so I’m watching TV and dealing with an old cat who thinks my lap is preferable to any other place in the house, too, but I’m still knocking off about three hours a night of handwork.

I head to the office once the late news is over. That’s where I have my third part-time job, writing. That’s the job I really like and the one that gives me the most joy, as well as the most frustration. For an embarrassingly long time, I would fritter the hours away by watching bad science fiction on Hulu, playing computer games or otherwise finding reasons to avoid doing the one thing I said I wanted to do. I’d go to bed about dawn feeling guilty and full of self-loathing, while all those characters and scenes I should have been putting on paper swirled chaotically around in my head, screaming at me for neglecting them.

Finally I had enough. I can’t really describe what went on inside me (sorry, even the best writers are at a loss for words sometimes), but one night I went into the office and took up my fountain pen and started writing. Even if it’s just a few sentences, some notes on a scene, or a character description, I write SOMETHING every night. As Jim Butcher has said in a number of his interviews, even one word is one word closer to finishing. The new novel is now over 30K words and going strong. I’m not going to be one of those writers that can push out several books a year; I’m too slow for that. But I will keep going until it’s done, while entering contests, submitting short stories and plugging steadily away at the one thing I’ve never been able to do without.

So the next time you hear someone’s “self-employed” or “stay-at-home,” think of me. Think of coming home to a freshly vacuumed house, a hot meal and clean underwear. Think of what it’s like to hear the bills are paid, a paying commission has been finished, and the paperwork for a new selling venue has been filed. Think of reading the book jacket of a new novel, and realizing you know that person.

Being self-employed isn’t for the faint of heart. But given that I’m finally past all the negative crap in my head and making progress in my chosen career, it’s a road I’ve gladly taken.

© 2013  Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

 

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It’s officially been three years.  Since what, you ask.  Since last I darkened the door of an office environment to work for someone else.  I was an office manager for a nice law firm, and then I wasn’t.  It came at a time in my life when I was really questioning what the hell I was doing and why, and was the answer I needed, if not the answer the checkbook wanted.

If you’ve read any of my past ramblings, you know I have spent the last three years trying to get another office job, while bitching about not wanting to at the same time.  I sent out hundreds of applications, only rarely landing an interview, and gradually lowering my standards until I ended up testing for a county job I had already done back in the ‘90’s.  I was really depressed about that for a long time.  Leaving 15 years of job experience and certifications and education on the shelf just to get something, anything for the paycheck.  Of course, I landed in the top tier of candidates on that test.  It took a couple of months, and then the calls started coming in for interviews.  Apparently the county budget had opened up and they were filling positions again.  In the span of five weeks I had four interviews with three different county departments.  One of those departments was the exact same one I had already worked five years for, in the exact same job, in the ‘90’s.  I figured I was a shoe in.  Within a couple days I had scheduled three more interviews for three other departments.  Then, one after another, the notification deadlines went by and I had no job offers.  None.  Zero.  Zip.  Zilch.  For a job I had already done, to excellent reviews, for FIVE YEARS.  The exact same classification, the exact same county, the exact same department.  NADA.

That’s when I decided I was really and truly done.  Done with working for someone else, done with looking for a job I’d probably just hate anyway, done with subjecting myself to the standards of those life forms lower than me.  Done, done, done.

So I had a serious sit-down with the hubby.  We talked pros and cons, we looked at the bills, we hacked things off the list like machete-wielding banditos in the jungle.  And we decided it was possible.  It wouldn’t be easy.  It meant we’d be tap-dancing penny to penny for an unknown length of time.  It meant deciding that things we’d always said we couldn’t live without, we would now live without.

Most importantly, it meant my husband had faith in me.  And with that kind of backing, anything is possible.

So I am now strictly an independent contractor.  For a few hours in the afternoon, I’m a housewife, taking care of chores, errands, dinner while my husband spends the day schlepping things at work.  In the evenings, I work on projects for our hobby-turned-side-business while watching TV.  We’re not making a lot of money off that business, but it’s been enough to pay for our hobbies and give us a little extra for the occasional household expense.  It helps keep us sane.

At night, well… at night is when I’m a writer.

That was the decision.  A full and complete acceptance of the one fact I’ve been avoiding for most of my adult life.  Mind you, I wasn’t avoiding it out of fear.  Okay, maybe it was fear, but it’s the fear associated with not paying the bills, not having the things everybody expects you to have, not living the life we’ve been told we should all be living.  I’ve been different my whole life, picked on mercilessly in school – you’d think I’d be used to it by now.  But there’s a part in each of us that desperately, feverishly wants to fit in, to be part of the club.  I finally managed to shut that bitch up.

I am who I am.  My creative nature has been with me since the day of my birth.  Music came first, then writing, then needlework and weaving and all the other things I’ve dabbled in over the years of my life.  But writing has always been the one outlet I’ve needed the most.  It is always with me.  Even when I’m not actually writing, I’m writing.  Things are always going on in my head – characters showing up out of the blue, scenes playing on some internal Caille-o-scope, plot-lines, worlds, gadgets, etc…

Now it is all free to romp without fetters.

My first novel is complete and I’m querying agents, using sources like Preditors & Editors, Writer Beware and Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents to wind my way through the craggy mine fields of the publishing industry.

I’m on the first draft of a new novel, as well.  Something that came to me out of a fan-fic writing exercise and then turned into something entirely its own.  Handwriting it on 60lb bond paper with a fountain pen.  Nothing like it.

A completed short story is being fished around for a home, another one has been entered into a contest and a couple more are languishing on my desk as I fumble through this monster I’m creating in green ink.

I’m trying to blog more.  (See?? Here I am!)

I do the occasional edit/polish/or-flat-out-typing job for a couple business clients.

I also have subscriptions to e-letters from FundsforWriters and the Creative Competitor, which list contests, grants, workshops and job opportunities from all over.

And I even applied for a grant from the Speculative Literature Foundation.  Can you believe they have one specifically for older writers who are just getting their pro game on?  How cool is that!?!

I’ve also joined FanStory, an on-line writers community where you can get your work critiqued by other writers, enter contests, or just read lots of stuff written by all levels of writers from all over the world.

And there’s so much more out there.  The Internet has made it so much easier to be an entrepreneur in these modern times, just as it has made it so much harder to filter all the information into our tiny little brains.  Modern technology is allowing me to work from home and not spend months and months waiting for something in the mail.  I can do research, video chat with an agent, and play my favorite tunes all without leaving my desk.  For someone who doesn’t get enough exercise to start with, it might not be the best thing for my physical health.

But finally doing what I really want, what I have ALWAYS wanted, full time, damn the bank account, screw the nay-sayers – that has given me a boost in my mental health the world’s best pharmaceuticals couldn’t manage.

So here I am, world.  Casting about in the sea of uncertainty, hoping something bites on one of my hooks while baiting the next one.  Man, I love the air out here.

 

© 2012  Cheri K. Endsley.  All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

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