For the last four months, I’ve been commuting to Boston, grateful for the gainful (freelance) employment, but not so thrilled at the travel time. Wah. I know. We can’t have it all, right? But with a drive in each direction of an hour or more (in this year’s frequent snow, sometimes more than 2 hours), the luster fades rather quickly. Particularly when one would rather be cooking, and writing, and shooting photographs, and generally chatting with you. A conundrum, to say the least. And, of course, we have to go back to the gainful employment thing. Surely it’s better to be employed rather than underemployed, even if it means sacrificing some of what you love. Right? Yeah, that sentence couldn’t avoid being a question in my mind.
I know that I’m not alone in this, as many of my other food- and creative-centric friends struggle with the balance: how to make a living doing what one loves, versus compartmentalizing the day job, keeping the avocation or passion separate. I’m hopeful that with a little more self-analysis, the answer will come to all of us – as was just said to me the other day, and which you have also heard time and time again, “the money will follow.” I’m an optimist, so I choose to believe that one can make a proper living doing what one loves.
So while I am certainly grateful for the income provided by the freelance gig, the tedium of sitting at a computer, scheduling, budgeting, answering frantic client requests, feeling as though the work could never possibly be completed – and working a few weekends and late nights to make an attempt at completion – that sense of drudgery of performing a “day job” really got to me in those four short months.
“Filled with dread,” is how I summarized another friend’s Sundaynightaphobia. “Yes! Yes! That’s it!” she exclaimed, “I am filled with dread. Thank you.” I’m not sure that being thanked for coming up with a dread-filled phrase is the proper response, but there we are. One friend cries every Sunday night and every Monday morning on the way to work. We all do the same job. Hmmmm. Kind of telling, right?
So, fortunately – really, this is how I think of it, while my conscience tells me that I should think otherwise – darned conscience – it appears that I’m back to more of a freelance schedule – meaning only the occasional thrash, one hopes, as opposed to the daily thrash and filled-with-dread syndrome. This also means that I’m less gainfully employed, though I won’t go so far as to call myself underemployed a la 2009. The upside is, with a bit of time to spend working at it, the farmette (yep. you’ve all convinced me that farmette isn’t a terrible word after all) and I are able to reconnect.
An hour or so yesterday was dedicated to weeding out an overrun garden bed near the barn, then planting bare root strawberry plants. The strawberries arrived on Monday, the day after Easter, which is quite the festa at our house, and, as such, requires quite a bit of post-festa clean-up. JR groaned at the sight of the strawberry shipping box, “how are we going to get those planted?” Part of the trade-off of being filled with dread is being able to go on vacation, and we are doing just that – very shortly, in fact.
“Well, if I plant 8 per day, I should be able to get them all done before we go,” I responded. “With gardening, you don’t have to do it all in a day, you know.”
Of course he knows that (he did refrain from groaning at me though, which was nice). He had just planted the cherry tree, and the three antique apples (“they’re awfully small for being 300 years old,” he said as he tapped the sod back into place around the base of the Rhode Island Greening tree-ette. At five feet tall and with just two branches, it doesn’t look like a whole lot right now, it’s true.).
After four months – and snowy months at that, it’s not as though I could have been planting during that time – digging in the dirt is such a welcome change from tapping away at the computer (for scheduling, budgeting, frantic client requests, et cetera. For writing, all is good, but those other things, not so much). And while the strawberries have a long way to go before they look like that photo up there, I know that eventually, they will. And I plan to be working on what I love when the time comes to harvest them.
Oh, lest you think that strawberry planting is pretty, I thought you might like this video of the new strawberry patch. And the disaster that is our yard.
I also promise to work on my sign-off for future videos. “Okay?” doesn’t seem sufficient, nor professional. Um, at all. Okay?