Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Carrefour, chicken breasts and cat crap

Mr Migraine is having his monthly visit but this time he hasn’t left after his bog-standard three days.

It is Day Four now and, unlike human house guests, I can’t blow my nose in the shower because the noise and reverberation – enhanced tenfold by the high ceilings and tiles stuck to the roof level – makes my brain cry, then swell and finally pump out a rhythmic heart beat of pain that sees me doubled over and able to touch my nose to the Jovial Douche label on the shower gel bottle.

Still, it’s a Wednesday and it’s been a while since I’ve tried to depict what an average day for a work-from-home freelance writer involves.

Of course, there isn’t really an ‘average’ day. Factors such as how many jobs I’ve bid for versus how many additional queries from potential clients need to be responded to compared to how many jobs I’m currently working on + scheduled Skype calls + new jobs won + repeat clients x those who email me rather than apply via the online agencies – freebies for friends divided by a truckload of procrastination.

So here goes.

6:45am - The alarm on my digital watch goes off. Peep-peep twenty times until it gives up. No snooze or repeat on this little thing. I can hear LC in the shower and Sapphire’s toilet flushing. My head hurts and I don’t move.

7:00am - Trouble is, my watch has two alarm settings, so 7am goes off also, peep-peep, twenty times. I get up, slide on the wedding ring and watch, take my Effexor and put on my Dog Clothes. At the first clink of the house keys, Milly scoots in; tail thumping against the bedside table. We take the elevator downstairs to give her ten minutes to wee, sniff, poo and scamper in the Dog Forest before a bowl of Migros-brand Matzingers and fresh water.

7:10am -  Love Chunks hands me a coffee which helps wash down two Exedrin migraine pills that a friend smuggled to me from the US. My face slowly feels as though it is starting to unfold itself.

7:40am -  We take the elevator downstairs again, but this time we’re two floors underground and walk past the eerie cement-lined bomb shelter, strangely singing overhead shower pipes and wind tunnel whistles. Milly’s ears flatten until we reach the car.

7:53am -  Arrive too early for Sapphire to walk into school and goof off. I love these seven minutes. She’ll point out kids in her class, kids in her creative writing club and teachers as they pass. If I can make her laugh just as she’s closing the door and saying goodbye, I superstitiously feel it’s an omen for a good day.

8:00am -  Find a parking spot right in front of the Japanese embassy. No doubt my ensemble of bed hair, cornflake eyes, dragon breath, ancient running t-shirt, trakkies and thongs aren’t seen too often in these parts.

8:30am -  Milly’s now securely behind the bathroom door, whining. “Misty.... Misty......Misty...... where are you sweetie?” I’m feeding a four year old rag doll cat who lives in the apartment block next to the embassy but she’s not showing her face. Her poo, on the other hand, is on proud display in the foyer, on the bottom step of the spiral staircase, in the laundry and, finally, the kitty litter tray.....

9:00am -  Back home, I bathe my arm. She managed to swipe me one after letting me think that she wanted her back stroked.  Drew blood, the little bugger.  Her farewell was a glimpse of her arse before it disappeared under the double bed.

10:00am - At Carrefour supermarket, five kilometres over the border in much cheaper France. Freshly showered, hair still wet and grasping a badly written shopping list. For some reason, the tune of the 1970s US sitcom Happy Days gets played at thirty second intervals which doesn’t help make the fading effects of the Exedrin any easier to take.

11:00am - Two trips from the car, through the two specially-locked garage entry doors, the swinging saloon-style elevator doors to finally arrive at our double locked front door – and back – with the groceries. It’s my own fault really. The Siege Mentality is strong within me – why buy two tins of tomatoes when you can grab four packs of three? Two measly bottles of diet coke when 24 cans are within easy reach or a litre of long life when eight are already plastic-wrapped with a convenient carry handle?

12:00 midday - The chicken breasts are marinating, cous cous is completed, the rice salad is cooling and the groceries are unpacked. Milly and I go down to the recycling bins across from our building – directly in front of the Qatar Embassy – and get rid of the cans, bottles and plastics from a week of 13th birthday celebrations. Back via the Dog Forest, where Milly gets to leave another large piece of herself and greet the Schindler’s Lifts blokes as they sit on the edge of the flower beds smoking.

1:00pm - Right. Today’s work. But not before I read my emails and see what some of my favourite bloggers are up to. Might as well eat lunch too. And a second coffee wouldn’t go astray.  And the dark load is ready to be hung out. Or draped, really, on the chairs in the spare room and the IKEA clothes rack by the pantry.

2:00pm -  Writing time. Honestly. I’m in the ‘final eight out of 50 applicants’ for a local copy writing job. They’ve sent me an assignment to complete by the end of the day in order to see what my brain and typing fingers can create from a make-believe micro-needling procedure that needs to be pretend-advertised. Boooooring. Somehow I find myself crouched on the floor, my eyes staring into Milly’s as I sniff her lovely soft ears and kiss the top of her head....

2:20pm -  DO IT. It’ll take TEN MINUTES and then press ‘send’ and forget about it!

3:00pm -  Okay, so it took fifty minutes and most of that was spent trying not to retch at the words selected and the sales techniques employed. Prostitution by keystroke; not helped by Mr Migraine bursting through again.

3:15pm -  Look at yesterday’s Skype interview notes with hot Melbourne chef and his new company. Realise that, at forty three years of age I should be able to understand my own handwriting and home made abbreviations by now.

3:30pm - Click the ‘x’ in the top right hand corner of Google Chrome, Explorer, Email and Spotify. Take two more Exedrin.

4:00pm -  Finish chef write up and email to him for comment.  

4:05pm - Sapphire arrives home from school.  Needs to use the computer for homework.  From the fart at my feet, Milly's ready for a walk and I'll quickly reply to some emails.  The father of the student I started tutoring yesterday is happy with his son's feedback when he got home last night.  I write back in sensible language about the teaching strategies I'll be using whilst mentally hoping that he doesn't find out that the good report is probably because I gave his son diet coke, made him laugh and said 'shit' a couple of times .....

4:30pm - "Mum pleeeeease can you get off the computer now. You've had it ALL DAY."  Yes but now the muse is kicking in - the website update for the Arizona blokes' restoration business is almost writing itself and the HR article for Canada is flowing, baby, flowing!

5:00pm - "OK Sapphire, it's all yours."  Love Chunks is bringing two work mates home for dinner and the living room is orange with Milly's dust bunnies and Sapphire's breakfast croissant crumbs.  Time for a quick vacuum, rearrangement of the wet washing and assembling of salad and more fresh raspberries to artfully scatter over the supermarket bought tart.

......11:30pm - With guests departed, table wiped down and dishwasher on, I realise that Sapphire's left the computer on. Check emails and freelance accounts one last time. Ghost writing book job is mine.  Press release position is mine.  CV editor, website copywriter, proof reader, online researcher, expat tutor and corporate report writer jobs aren't.  Probably a good thing really; where would I find the time?


The Plastic Mancunian said...

Bonjour Kath,

I'll have to do one of these "A Day In The Life Of ..." posts.

The problem is there would be too much to rant about from a work perspective.

I love the idea of crossing the border to France to go shopping. Mind you, I know what Swiss prices are like (from my stint in Zurich and visit to Geneva).




Nuttynoton said...

You make your day sound so interesting and varied, mine was went to work, dealt with the problems, went to parents evening heard an excellent report on miss NN younger, had fish and chips, watched the news read your blog went to bed, much less interesting! Keep the blind coming

Cat J B said...

Hope Mr Migraine leaves you soon, that's got to make everything else in life feel less than exciting. My life seems to be full of karate at the moment, lessons, tournaments and washing the whites.

Funny, I had this weird vision thing the other day, freaked myself out thinking I was having a stroke, went to the Dr who said it was an aura(sp?), a pre-cursor to migraines. Yoiks, don't really want to go there...

Hannah said...

Thank you for writing this, Kath. I leant towards the computer screen as soon as I knew this was going to be about (in part) your freelancing, as it's something I'm considering myself but have no unearthly, no ungodly, just plain no idea what is involved, nor whether I'd be any good.

Ghost writing book job? That sounds like a bit of a coup for you! Bravo!

Jayne said...

Hope that dreadful migraine fades as quickly as the lovefest the public had with Rudd xxx

River said...

That's a lot to cram into one day!
Here's a run down of my days.
Eat breakfast while reading a book.
Catch two buses to work while reading a book.
Work four hours.
Without a book.
Catch two buses home again while reading a book.
Have a coffee while reading a book.
Quick nap.
Prepare dinner and eat while reading a book.
Turn on computer and keep book handy for reading while slow pages load.
Wash dishes.
Read emails and blogs until 8.30 or 9pm, turn off computer.
Read a book until bedtime at 9.30pm

River said...

One question...when Mr Migraine came bursting through again at 3pm, why wait until 3.30pm to take two more Exedrin? This gives him a chance to get well established; wouldn't you be better off knocking him back immediately he dares to show his face?
Here's a time line...swallow pills, wait twenty minutes for pills to be digested, then ten or fifteen more minutes for pills to be thoroughly absorbed into bloodstream and numb the necessary nerve endings. This was told to me by a nurse years ago, maybe she was wrong, but it seems to me that taking them immediately would bring faster relief. Your case may be different because of the brain tumor......

Kath said...

Shopping in France sounds rather glamorous, doesn't it, PlasMan? Trouble is, the Carrefour reeks of fish, I always get the trolley stuck in the wire matting of the escalators and absent mindedly start whistling along to their 'Happy Days' theme tune....

Nutty, your day would be just as interesting - it's just word play.

CatJB I'm thrilled to report that today I woke up with a clear head. I've never had the migraine auras - I either have a nightmare and wake up to one or it just arrives - WHAMMO - and I grab the painkillers and look for a dark room.

Hannah I'm pretty excited about the ghost writing thing - lots of training material and handouts already provided and I'll be Skyping and chatting with the owner to see how it can be made into a book. Fun and challenging for both of us.

It has, Jayne. I do hope, though, that Mr Migraine hasn't now decided to make his visits four day ones instead of three day stays.

River, you're probably right about the Exedrin. I guess I still struggle with pill popping and sometimes the stuff just doesn't work even if I take it immediately. Then, because something's already in my system, I endure it for four hours before trying Panadeine or aspirin or the swiss-made Migraine Kanit.

Last night I took some more just before the dinner guests arrived and it worked perfectly. Trouble is, the caffeine was too effective and I was wide awake at 4am.

Pandora Behr said...

Hi mate,

Hope the migraine has finally passed.

Ghost writing? Ghost writing what - excellent!


Fenstar de Luxe said...

Ooh I hate migraines, I get them too and I despise them. Glad to hear yours has finally departed.

Sounds like the ragdoll is punishing its owners for being away, cats are terrible like that!

Hot Melbourne chef eh...enquiring minds would like to know... ;)

drb said...

Congrats on your ghost writing job!
Well done! xo
How long will the job take?
Days or months?

Anyone famous?

I hate routine so much that not 2 days are the same. I even work different ways to and fro work.

Ann O'Dyne said...

love from me.

diane b said...

Sorry to hear you get migraines.I've only ever had a few but I have vivid memories of the pain and nausea. So I feel sorry for you ...every month! Love your diary for a day. You fit in lots together with a dash of procrastinating. Congrats on the writing job, I hope it doesn't take you away from blogging.

Jackie K said...

Oh, I would be hopeless at freelance anything, I am so undisciplined!
I think you did well to do anything at all while coping with a migraine.
Funny how the writing muse never hits when you have the time, but right at the most inconvenient moments.

Jackie K said...

forgot to say congratulations on the ghost writing job - how exciting!

wilbo43 said...

Wow, ghost writing a book! I hope it'll be a best seller. Your blogging friends are sure it will be.

Hope you're feeling better

Kath said...

The ghost writing job is not likely to eventuate now because ..... well, the info they sent me to start working on was ... awful. Full of unrealistic claims (some were outright lies) and a total lack of knowledge about their claimed area of expertise.

I spent around twelve hours deciphering the text and in formulating an honest - but fairly brutal - list of feedback, suggestions and very worrying issues.

If the person can handle that and asks me to write it from scratch for a decent fee, then maybe. Otherwise, I'm assuming I'll never hear from them again. Such is the nature of freelance writing.