Photo of me expressing my true self after two vodka martinis with multiple olives
It’s Labor Day weekend and all through my FaceBook, people are really excited. “It’s finally here!” writes one friend. So, I posted a happy holiday messages to all who celebrate holidays.
I don’t generally get involved with holidays. To me, they are just another day. I’d like to say something sappy, like, “I don’t celebrate holidays. I make every day a celebration.” Yeah, right, in my dreams of a perfect world. In truth, being self-employed, holidays don’t hold the near sacredness they used to when I was a galley slave in corporate America.
In those days, I would mark each holiday on the calendar in big red Sharpy marker. Holidays—there weren’t enough of them. And some months we didn’t even get the day off. I mean, come on. Isn’t Ground Hog Day significant enough to let us out of the cage for a day? Not even close. And, why did the let us off for Christmas, but not Yom Kippur, or the Japanese holiday, Coming of Age Day (Seijin ho hi)?
I would even stretch the holiday by taking vacation days one or two at a time and attaching them to holiday weekends. Anything to minimize the skull-crushing experience of being in that grey cubicle, facing that PC (I’m a Mac girl) and all the inanities of corporate life day after numbing day.
So now, as a self-employed person of modest means and roller-coaster income, holidays are a time to do nothing. Why? Because holidays are when everyone else go places and do things. That means crowds, long lines, and general overall stress. I remember people having to rest up after their vacations. That just seems wrong somehow.
I know, people have to use these opportunities to play because that’s the only time they can, especially if they have children. So, I respectfully let them have that space without adding another body or two to the infinite sea of people at, say Sea World.
It’s not that I don’t like people, well overall, I like people I know and like. I’m not a fan of overcrowded restaurants, movies, theme parks, campgrounds, beaches, and such. Allen and I go to the movies on Monday morning, when NOBODY is there. It’s like having a private screening. We go to our favorite campground (rarely) in Big Sur from Tuesday through Thursday. It’s like renting a forest of our own. Only a few others there.
Theme parks, though are tougher. It seems that they are always crowded, but we found that Disneyland, on Sunday afternoon is the best time to go on non-holiday weekends. Shopping is best on Tuesdays early. Grocery shopping is best early and late. Knowing when to go where becomes a science. I’m not a shopper. I have been accused of shopping like a man. I know what I want, I plan my route, go in grab the item and head for checkout. I rarely browse. The only shopping I like is when I am on vacation and there are odd shops or quaint villages to browse in. Even then, I am done pretty fast.
Having said all that about the joys of self employment, I can also admit that self employment is hard, harder than any job I’ve ever had. I don’t work for someone, I work for everyone. My typical workday starts at around 9am and I quit around 7pm. Then, if I am teaching, I start again at 7:30 and go until 9:30 or 10. This is 7 days a week even on holidays.
I don’t have medical insurance. I pay a higher percentage of taxes than employed folk. The cost of doing business usually takes most of what I earn. The IRS doesn’t seem to understand this. The complexities of doing this kind of business scrambles my brain. Thank the powers that I have Allen, who takes care of all that.
If I want a loan for whatever, I have to prove, with tax records going back a few years, that I can afford it. And, on holidays, because everyone else is out playing, people aren’t using my services. Well, I get business from Europe on U.S. holidays, but they constitute only a small part of business.
But in the why-do-I-do-this column: I love it. I take 2 hour lunches. Stop for a break when I want to. Take a day off when I want to without having to feign illness. I make my own schedule and deadlines that I am free to ignore if I want to (and I usually do). My home office is ten feet from my bedroom. I’m writing this in my PJs, munching on stale nuts left over from last night. My consultation office is five minutes from home. I don’t have to put on make-up unless I am teaching or seeing a client. Most of my business is done over the phone. I get to meet the most wonderful people and never have to go to meetings.
Plus, as a learning junkie, I learn so much. My clients and students are a constant source of wonderfulness. With all of the downside, I really love my life. Maybe because it is MY life. Being a child of the hippie era, I have a strong independent streak and a need for creativity, and a self-directed life. I make a lousy employee unless I am given full autonomy over my job. Yeah, like that’s ever going to happen. I have little patience for the illogical, ego-games that I was swimming in in corporate America. I had little ambition to “climb the ladder.” I just wanted to do my job and be left out of the politics. Not possible.
In the corporate America I knew, we all had to be team players and pretend that we really cared about the company instead of just the pay check. I’m sure some people did care and really did make the company the central part of their lives. I’m just not made out of the same recipe. So, I didn’t belong. Hail to large companies, they made the beautiful Mac Pro screaming machine, brand new computer that I am using right now possible. They made the incredible 23″ monitors (2) that I am looking at. A corporation made my I-Pod, my television, and keep the water flowing to my house. They make sure I can flip a switch and the lights go on. They made the piece of junk car that I continue to drive, keep on rolling. Thank you!
On the other hand, the corporate world duped me into thinking that Maytag was still a reliable company. Not knowing that Maytag had been sold and was now being manufactured in a not to be named country, I bought a stove, microwave, and dishwasher. All Maytag. Good stuff too, not the low-end, which makes me even more annoyed. All of them have had major repairs way more often than they should have in their three-year stay in my home. Stove has one burner out, the top oven handle keeps breaking, and the convection oven doesn’t work. Automatic cleaning of the top oven blew it’s brains out and had to be repaired to the tune of several hundred dollars. And, the repairman let it slip that this particular part was made to fail after so many hours of use. Of course all of this stuff happened just after the warranty expired. Whine, whine, whine. Shut up Anita.
In confetti conclusion – Being an employee is not for everyone. Being self-employed is not for everyone. I like it. I know others who hate it and want to get a “real” job. Holidays are a godsend for some and a so-what for others. We all live on our own little planet with our own little way of living. Aint it grand? Or not.
I think I’ll make cookies today. Cooking is my therapy, a sensual and creative experience. When I get bored or annoyed, cooking is my MD.
“All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.”
Thanks for reading.
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