Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Flexible to a point

My book group met to talk about Eat Pray Love -- my book pick. This was such a wildly popular book that I was interested to hear what my friends thought. (I read it in January and didn't read it again for book group, if that tells you anything. The book I wanted to pick wasn't out in time.)

The conversation turned to the idea: if you could take a year or four months or four days for that matter to disappear and do what you want, wherever you wanted, to completely indulge in YOU, where would you go and would you go?

Which led to the conversation that only one person in the room had the luxury to pick up and go like that -- and they all look at me. "You're a writer," they said. "She's a writer. You guys can do things like that."

Hm. I know someone personally who did one of those types of retreats from the real world and wrote about it. And this person and Elizabeth Gilbert had two words in common before they left.

Book contract.

Look, if a publisher wants to pay me to do my dream retreat -- follow the life path of David Copperfield (the Dickens character, not the magician) -- I'm all for going. Or to attend Mass at all the great Cathedrals of Europe, I'm up for that, too.

But without the book contract in hand, I've got to still come up with a way to pay the bills, and that's with my regular freelance work. And I can't do that if I'm ignoring the real world.

The real world doesn't go away, either, as the people I know found out. The whole family went on that retreat away from the world, except they had to rush home at one point when a family member died in a plane crash.

Anyway, that discussion at book group was one more reminder that freelancing is a real job, even if there is flexibility to it. Yes, I can do it from anywhere, kind of. I was able to write an article in a friend's spare bedroom in Alabama and did interviews from hotel rooms in Maryland, and who knew but me? But seeing how hard it was to juggle interviews with people traveling in China and how spotty the internet connection was in my one hotel room, freelancing wouldn't be easy to do from the road for long periods of time.

Besides, I'd miss my husband . . .

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Moment of Politics

Those who know me know that I love politics and political history more than the average bear. I study presidential politics for fun. I studied political science with the idea of getting a graduate degree because I think studying politics is fun.

Yeah, I'm opinionated. I've never met a person who isn't. And yeah, that shapes the way I look at the world and my politics. But I try to be fair, really I do (and I also try to avoid talking about politics when I think it can get ugly).

My candidate didn't win last night. That's because my candidate, the person I really thought would be the best president, wasn't on the ticket. I voted though because that is my civic duty and I had to make a choice one way or another. And even if I didn't circle the ballot for president, there were other important choices for my state that I had to make.

Today, I'm hearing a lot of talk about hopeful possibilities and a lot of talk about fear. You know what folks? It is rare when we can guess what is going to happen. I do know that the 44th president isn't going to be able to change abortion rights or take away your guns or wave a magic wand to fix health care. Some of the things social conservatives worry about will happen on the state level and then maybe go to the Supreme Court, which is going to be shifting right after four years unless there is a mass of replacements needed. A Democratic Congress doesn't mean agreement (see 1993/1994). To throw oneself into a tizzy over which candidate won is time wasted. First, maybe we should take time to rejoice that we had an election without scandal. That in and of itself speaks volumes. Second thing, take the time to really educate yourself about the way government works. It helps you understand the big picture and also the importance of your state politics.

Today is a day to look forward. As I read a few places, change isn't always good. No, but change can be exciting because it means the possibilities are endless.