Ol' George is back on top again

What a manic lifestyle this freelancing thing is.

I get work, I’m busily working for a few weeks, I send it in. I revel in being free and easy for approximately 22 hours — I’m a professional, they pay me to do this, I get to work barefoot, in sweatpants, and tell people at cocktail parties I’m a fancy-pants editor — and then the fear settles in.

When will the next job come? Oh God, did I do something horribly wrong and boneheaded on the last job? Shouldn’t I have checked it over one last time before handing my precious package over to the nice folks at the UPS store? What if they put the wrong label on it after all — even though I triple-checked it — and it’s headed for Ibiza, where it will languish in the basement of some tawdry eurotrash nightclub, under a mildewed pile of last season’s sarongs?

Why haven’t I gotten paid yet for the last couple of jobs? Are they too busy passing the project around the office, each person sticking their snide and demeaning commentaries on each page in variously-colored post-it notes, then getting together over drinks at happy hour to howl over the mediocrity of my so-called work?

I start to read — daily, compulsively, morbidly — the local classified ads, wondering if I could get a job as a pet sitter, or perhaps I should deliver newspaper bundles at night, so no one would see how far I’ve fallen. I was supposed to be somebody, you know — I had great grades, scholarships, writing awards… why did I ever drop out of grad school? What’s wrong with whoring myself out for a little tenure, for crying out loud? It beats this waiting, this belly-deep certainty that it’s over, my grand, noble experiment of working full-time as a freelancer has finally reached its ignoble end, it’s come to a crashing halt, the fantasy is shattered…

And then the phone rings. Another job is on the way. The friendly voice at the other end tells me how pleased she was with the last job, and how she’s bumping me up to a higher level of pay, and passing my name on to her colleagues. For good reasons, mind you, not mockery-based reasons.

The phone rings again, and it’s another job.

I put my feet up on my desk, my hands threaded casually behind my head. I breathe a deep, slow sigh of contentment, and firmly tell myself that, throughout this days-long ordeal, I never doubted that the phone would ring again. Honest. Never. A shred. Of a doubt.

Sigh.

lather, rinse, repeat.

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