A Weasel Lurks in Boonton

Thus far in my freelance career I've been fortunate to work for people who are professional and trustworthy. While I've tried not to take this for granted, it wasn't until a real weasel came along that I remembered how incredibly fortunate I've been. (Not quite as eloquent or dramatic as Madeleine L'Engle's: "Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light," but same principle.)

It's not that I haven't been approached by grifters, I have. Just recently, a man reached out to me after finding my resume on The first time he contacted me he said he was from one company. In a subsequent email, that company name changed but the role stayed the same. Curious to find out what it was all about, I responded with my rates, as requested, and he told me he could pay exactly half. Um... 

When I remained firm, he began to badger me, sending emails that read: "Just try it! It'll probably take half the time you think …

Eat, Cry, Panic

While typically my inbox brims with rejection emails, several weeks ago I received a message that began with the word "Congratulations!" 

Thrilled to see that salutation instead of the usual: "We're sorry, but we just don't think..." I was elated before I'd even identified the sender. (I'm at a place where if you congratulate me on anything from wearing a clean shirt to not stepping on my cat, I'll graciously accept and momentarily glow with pride.) 

But before I got my hopes up too high, I realized it could be another "Congratulations! You've been selected to attend our 'Combatting Female Baldness & Vaginal Dryness During Menopause' seminar!" email, so, naturally, I had to table my enthusiasm temporarily until I'd read further.

But, it turned out, it was, in fact, good news. My application to attend a small writing conference in Italy this July had been accepted.

I read the email in disbelief but within moments my init…

Expenses That Take a Backseat When You're Unemployed

"And what about you? We haven't seen you in a while! It's been, what, at least a year?" my dentist shrieked last Thursday after I brought in my 10-year-old for a routine cleaning.

I found this only slightly less irritating than dealing with an impacted wisdom tooth because first, no one wants to be dental-shamed, second, I was last there in late June of 2017 (not the mid-1980s as she seemed to be implying), and, third, piggybacking on my last point, I haven't been in because I lost my dental coverage when I lost my job last June.

Clearly, it's not like I walked out of her office that sunny summer day, threw my toothbrush in the gutter, laughed maniacally, and turned my back on oral care, vowing never to brush or floss again. So, needless to say, I found her behavior off-putting.

Now, you're probably thinking, "Liz, you're over-reacting. Surely this woman isn't a mindreader, how could she possibly know you were out of work (again!) and struggl…

Pros & Cons of the Freelance Lifestyle

Rather than return to the grind of a full-time gig, I've been doing a lot of freelance work instead. (What with being laid off in 2014 and 2017, that's one roller coaster I wasn't up for boarding again so soon.)

While initially I was delighted by the work-from-home, make-your-own-hours freedom of this career choice, as I'm approaching a year of it, it's definitely a mixed bag – one that's filled with its share of benefits and shortcomings.

Topping my list of lesser-known perks is the opportunity to sing along to the most depressing Aimee Mann tunes without colleagues suggesting I get myself some Abilify®.

Downsides you may not imagine include me stalking the mail carrier and muttering my daily mantra, "Where's my check?"

(Yes, many publications roll old school and shun PayPal and direct deposit much to the dismay of my beleaguered postal worker.)

Some facets of the freelance lifestyle actually fall into both categories. Exhibit A: I can spend mos…

The Art of Creating a Professional Bio

Since losing my job in June, I've been doing a lot of freelancing. Fortunately, while I'd been working, I'd never abandoned my side hustle. So rather than start from scratch, I've taken on additional assignments from my usual clients and pursued new opportunities in an attempt to recreate a full work day and cobble together a semi-decent paycheck.

So far, it's been going well, but managing multiple deadlines can be challenging, and staying on top of invoicing has definitely proven time-consuming. To keep it all straight, I've created a color-coded Google calendar that is so (unintentionally) psychedelic, it will induce retirement-themed hallucinations if you stare at it long enough.

All that aside, one of the biggest issues I've faced writing for many different publications is a bit more personal. I'll be busy typing away when in it comes: the dreaded request for a bio.

Regardless of your background and your area of expertise, crafting an interesting an…

'Let Them Tell You You're Not Qualified!'

Before my father-in-law moved to Florida he'd come over for dinner and frequently he'd tell the same stories he'd shared during his previous visits. My husband would attempt to gently remind him that we were all familiar with whichever anecdote he was launching into by saying, "Right, Dad, we've heard this one." (A futile effort to stop our teen's manic eye-rolling)

But my father-in-law, in his 80s and undaunted, would simply say, "Well, then, you're going to hear it again!" and continue.

One of his favorites was a tale about the time when he, a young teacher, was hoping to move up in academia. He'd found a posting for a job he wanted but because he believed he didn't meet all the requisite qualifications, he felt he shouldn't bother pursuing it.

Lamenting his perceived shortcomings to a colleague, the fellow, being older and wiser, told him, "Apply for it, Ed, and let them tell you you're not qualified!"

(Without …

That Time I Was Disqualified for a Hot Dog Survey

Because being unemployed will make you do strange things (like eat an entire layer cake while watching a Vanderpump Rules marathon), I recently answered an email survey that offered cold hard cash (OK, a check most likely) in exchange for my thoughts on certain food items. Of course, before I got to the taste-testing phase, I had to check off how frequently I purchased the products in question.

Wanting to respond honestly as any good consumer should, I admitted that I don't buy instant coffee nor instant rice, even though I knew I might be blowing my chance to make a cool $50 for eating (which I love, see above) foods I didn't have to pay for myself.

Unfortunately, my candor limited me to just frozen desserts and hot dogs. I typically don't purchase the latter but my son recently tossed a package into our cart at Trader Joe's after no fewer than five "Please, Mom!!!"s. And because they were being bagged for me by a friendly hipster in a Hawaiian shirt, who sa…