Freelance Life: The Ups and Downs, All In One Day

Found in the kitchen at work...

The life of a freelancer is fraught with uncertainty. Many of us live day to day, unsure of where we’ll be tomorrow. We wait by our phones, we constantly refresh our email inboxes. One missed message could determine whether you make rent that month.

Today’s story is about a roller coaster ride my job sponsored about a week ago.

I was working at an agency that booked me way in advance for a week, and they wanted to book me for the rest of the month. It was easy and fun design work, and I was excited to say yes…till I took a closer look at the schedule. There were weird gaps in it – work for Mon. – Wed., then off till next week’s Thursday. Repeat and repeat. I calculated that this would net me 2 weeks worth of income instead of a full month’s worth, which was unacceptable. The gap days weren’t long enough for me to find additional work elsewhere. So I started negotiating with the producer – give me a more solid booking or else I reject the job. It’s just financially stupid for me to accept!

“Okay, I’ll see what we can do,” she said. The producer knew it was unfair. “The Creative Director REALLY likes working with you, so I’m sure we’ll find other projects to keep you occupied during the down time.”

I felt good. Relieved. Maybe “ask and you shall receive” really is a thing!

Lunch came and went. The two coworkers I’d been asking out to lunch all week had left without asking me. Bitches.

When everyone returned, the producer stood up. “Our client decided to make drastic script changes, and we won’t hear anything back from them till October 20th at the earliest. We’ll honor all bookings already made….”

If I were a cartoon, you would’ve seen my head collapse in on itself! I didn’t book like everyone else in the room – I gambled and lost and now I’ll have NO income for the rest of the month!!!! Sweating, I tried to talk myself down with logic. I knew this was a risk. This is probably for the better…So, like the calm person I am, I sent out stacks of emails to studios, hunting for work, in less than ten minutes. My lines were out. SOMEONE had to bite…right?

And someone did!! I felt giddy and immediately, desperately said yes. It’s a good thing most bookings happen in text form, I’d just incoherently spazz out on the phone! YES, GIVE ME YOUR MONEY :D

Then, a tap on my shoulder.

Then, the Creative Director pulled me in to his glass office. It felt like being in the Principal’s office. I was panicking again.

“I heard about you wanting a more solid booking, I’m really sorry to see you go after this Friday.”

Ugh, me too. I regretted all those fancy pens and $70 leggings I just bought. Oh and the $40 leggings too…

“And this is really premature of me to ask right now, but would you be interested in a staff position here?”

A….WHAT?! My head re inflated.

“I think you’re extremely talented and I really hate to lose you. You’re…26? So you’re probably interested in insurance and retirement benefits, right??”

My head inflated even more, and then it popped.

The end!

EPILOGUE

Staff isn’t something he can just throw around, but it sounded like something we would talk about again later this year. It also wouldn’t change October’s schedule; luckily I immediately found work elsewhere, doing some cool stuff :)  Other freelancers have a very calm, come what may attitude, and are okay taking 6 months off in the year.  Me….I’m of the traditional school of thought, where you should work as long as you’re able, while you’re young, to save up money for retirement.  I don’t believe Social Security can support me (or if it’ll even be around) in the future, so it’s a big concern to me.

Fiction VS Non-Fiction: The Worst Thing You Could Do Is Choose A Side

Like The Daily Post’s prompt today says, there exists a “Great Divide” between non-fiction and fiction lovers.  But why choose one side when you can have the best of both?

I used to be one of those people who simply couldn’t read non-fiction.  What was the point if I was already living real life?  A book was supposed to unleash your imagination, I thought, it was supposed to make you experience incredible journeys and fantasies that could never happen in real life.

But the same can be said about non-fiction books – they let you experience the incredible journeys and fantasies that have never happened in YOUR life!  So why close one option off in favor of the other?  Perhaps this is just be growing up.  As a child, not only did I exclusively read fiction, I exclusively watched cartoons.  That’s right, I never watched live action shows.  Friends?  Seinfeld? They were all stupid and boring real-life people, who cares!  Now that I’m not a little jerk, I care!
So I’ve made a new rule for myself.  After one book of fiction, I have to read a non-fiction book afterwards….and I’m so happy I made this rule.  It’s made me pick up so many stories that I never would have before, made me learn about what it was like in Nazi camps for Jews, what it was like growing up a poor thug in Gowanus, and what it was like to leave your home in China, slash through Thai jungles and run the Mexican border to get to New York City.  I’ve fallen in to enough Wikipedia holes about WWII soldiers to know that Mark Twain was 100% correct when he said,

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”

It’s not unheard of for movies to change true stories when they do the screenplay version, because the truth would make audiences say, “That’s too unrealistic!”

My favorite non-fiction book so far: The Snakehead .
The next fiction book I want to read: The Magician’s Land (Book 3).

Inappropriate At Work #8: “May You Conquer Many Asians”

I’ve recently started a freelance job at a very large company, which is part of an even larger parent company in New York.  They own the entire building and each floor housed a different sub-company.  It was 6:30pm, and the elevator made a stop at every other floor.  People packed in, eager to start their commute home.

One man stood in a corner, sleeves rolled up, book tucked in the nook of his arm.

An older woman noticed it and asked, “What are you reading?”

“It’s a book by David Sedaris,” replied the man. “He signed it actually!  It says, ‘Happy 40th birthday, may you conquer many Asians’.”

“What…?”  The woman said.  There was some giggling in the packed elevator.  Giggles gained courage and grew in to laughter.  Everyone was smiling and looking nervously at me, the only Asian in the packed elevator.  Hell, I was the only minority in the elevator.  “What does that mean?  Conquer Asia?”

“No, it says ‘conquer many Asians.   I have no idea what it means, I have to meet him again and ask him about it.”

300 years later, the elevator finally hit the lobby, and I escaped in to the wild, uncomfortable and slightly offended.

I don’t know much about David Sedaris; I’ve seen his name on a few shelves at bookstores, and understand he’s some kind of comedian.  Not sure that I like his brand of humor.  Or perhaps he’s better in longform, because a little quip like that is so….um….objectifying??  A quick search on google for “David Sedaris Asians” (because I wondered if he was quoting something) only turned up a short article he wrote about how disgustingly dirty China is and how weird Chinese food is.  I dunno, it wasn’t that funny, it was very…expected and not witty.  Kinda just made me go “Hmm. :/” and close the browser.

Life Changing Lingerie

I don’t think I can go back to a regular store for bras anymore.

First thing to note, I’m petite. I can and have shopped in the children’s section, and sometimes get carded…at the movies. The size I generally get from chain stores is 32A, but anything I bought in regular chain stores just wouldn’t fit. It was frustrating to feel both like they were too big yet too small for me (where I was spilling out the top, yet not completely filling the cup out). Aerie was almost a sanctuary, because a few of their bras run a little small so it felt nice and snug. But I still had the “too big yet too small” problem.

Lingerie stores are intimidating. I have absolutely no one to ask for recommendations….no one I know goes to them, especially since their bras tend to be around $60-120. At Aerie, you could get 3-5 bras for that price. Even more if there’s a sale going on. Plus, lingerie stores are small, meaning sales associates will pay a lot of attention to you (hell for an introvert), and you have to get naked infront of the sales associate. A lot of people are too self-conscious for that.  But you have to throw all that self-consciousness away if you want to get a bra that fits! Continue reading

The Way to a Woman’s Heart is Through the Stomach

…And keeping a moderately full wallet sure helps, too!

I moved in with my boyfriend 4 months ago, and it’s only now that I’m starting to feel like this is “home”.  I had my stuff, we redecorated and refurnished…but what I really needed to stop feeling out of my element was to have control over food.  Sounds weird, doesn’t it?  But I grew up on the southern edge of Chinatown and that means I was accustomed to cheap yet fresh food.  If I ate out in Chinatown, a meal was $5.50.  If I bought produce for me and my uncle, $7 would last us two weeks.  Meanwhile, I know coworkers would talk about how joining a CSA (local farms produce sharing) was cheap at $20 a week.  I could barely fathom what they used to pay before joining a CSA, the thought horrified me.  So that means my grocery bills for me and my uncle were roughly $150 a month – we probably only got outside food on weekends, and remember again that Chinatown food is still a third of the price of an American restaurant.

There’s an app you can get for Macs called “iBank” – it’s basically the same as Quicken but with a better UI, in my opinion.  My credit card statements get imported every month, and I hand-input the cash-transactions I make.  It creates these awesome pie graph charts for me to see how my spending is going.  I haven’t figured out how to truly balance it with my income, since I refuse to link it to my actual bank account.  Security reasons, personal preference.  I started doing this in July and it was SUCH a shocker….I didn’t realize that after moving in with my boyfriend, we were spending so much more on food!!!

July Food Bill (Groceries + Dining Out) – $307.27

I have NEVER spent that much on food in one month…in my life.  While freaking out, I talked to some friends and coworkers, and it seems that the “300s” is what they consider a good range for food per month.  And keep in mind, my boyfriend sometimes pays for stuff and we usually go dutch, so our collective food bill is surely even worse.  I immediately became homesick….being near Chinatown at home, our bills were $150-200 max…this was not something I was used to seeing.

So I set out to lower my food costs.

There is a lot of strategy that goes in to saving money on food, so rule #1 is absolutely the most important. Continue reading

[COMIC] Jazzy Adventures #001

That’s a temp name. I’m terrible at naming things!  And those of you who know me on Facebook have already seen this, but here’s my first comic strip.  Or 1-page short story.

This is a true story.  The events depicted in this comic took place in Brooklyn in 2014 (1 week ago).  At the request of the artist, there won’t be many people in each panel, because it’s hard to draw.    Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred.

More to come :)  Probably in color, too.

Life Update: I’m Back!

One of my latest drawings on tumblr (http://jelliefishielicious.tumblr.com/).

And it feels great!  A lot has happened since the last time I posted.  I tried writing a few posts on my phone, but the WordPress App is pretty screwed.  It LOVES to crash and delete posts, or never upload them, so I guess I’ll have to backtrack with another “Life Update”.

May Was A Monumental Month.

Remember how I could go on and on about the sucky roommate my boyfriend had?  Well DING DONG, THE WITCH IS DEAD!!!!  Okay, not dead – but GONE, along with her filthy, neglected cats and the clutter she’d been hoarding!!  Elle moved out with her boyfriend.  The other roommate also moved out with her boyfriend.  And…then I moved in with my boyfriend!  That’s right…I left my childhood home.  It feels weird, man.  I still refer to his place as..well…HIS place, not as my/our home.  I’ve slowly been shuttling things over.  Other than my computer, there’s really just my clothes to contend with, and it’s been a good opportunity to toss some stuff that I’ve had since middle school…and didn’t even wear back then because it was too ugly!

We live in a railroad apartment, so The Office is connected to Small Bedroom #1 (technically mine), which is connected to Small Bedroom #2.  It’s nice that we have this whole section of the house to us now, and that means I don’t have to walk OUT in to the lobby to go to the bathroom anymore.  YES.  Small Bedroom #1 got a fresh coat of paint, and went from icky pale yellow (reminiscent of cigarette smoke) to a grey-blue known to Benjamin Moore as “November Sky”.  What’s neat is, if you stand outside and look in to the room, it looks grey.  When you step inside and you’re surrounded by it, it looks blue :O  Lighting is mystical like that.  So I got some stuff from the IKEA STOLMEN system and now my stuff is in a walk in closet!!!  It’s so cool that I can say that!!!  A walk in closet…in New York City!  I share it with my boyfriend, of course.  I’ll have a picture once we really finish; some of the top shelving is not yet assembled.

There’s a lot more left to do.  Paint the bedroom, paint the living room (having trouble picking colors…).  My damn coffee table came in this morning, after 2 weeks of waiting, and it was damaged in delivery (-___- ).  Gotta wait another 2 weeks for a replacement.  Gotta organize all the cabinets and under the sink areas.  Gotta get crafty :P   Crafty Project #1, by the way, was a complete failure!  I tried cutting drawer dividers out of the ample cardboard we have here….it looked terrible and doesn’t stay up.  I ended up just buying some….for like $30…..but it looks great, and it’s DONE.

Oh yeah, and there’s a new roommate!  Annie’s pretty cool.  She’s really in to board games, Blizzard’s Hearthstone game, and hanging out with her boyfriend.  They’re chill, and they’re neat, so I like’m so far.

Went Rafting & Camping For A Week In The Grand Canyon.
DSC00257

The bucket list trip I never knew I had on my bucket list!!  I’ve mentioned this before – my boyfriend’s parents like to treat their kids/kids-in-law to a vacation on their 30th birthday.  They took their older son and his wife to St. John’s in the Caribbean, and stayed for a week in a villa by the water.  It sounded really fancy, with outdoor bathtubs, great views, a staircase down to the turquoise water, and their own chef…!  They offered the same trip to my boyfriend, but neither of us wanted to lay around and drink all day, with butlers waiting on us.  So his parents took us to the Grand Canyon!!!  I have TONS of pictures and will fill out another post solely about this trip, because it was truly amazing and deserves at least that!  It was life changing, it was beautiful, it was relaxing yet active, I gained a tan and 10lb because of all the good food…and I think it really is something everyone should do before they die.

…And I’m Getting Back In To Drawing.

Lady Knight

I finally took the plunge and bought a Cintiq 22HD!  It’s amazing and, aside from my Kindle, one of my most favorite purchases ever.  Although it’s hard to draw after work when you put in overtime, it’s let me draw and paint a lot more than I have in a long, long time.  I’ve put a lot more stuff in my tumblr page, which I’ve been using more and more lately too.  And pretty soon I’ll have some comic strips to put up :)  It’s always been a thing I wanted to do, just to get more drawing practice on stuff I don’t normally like to draw.  If you look at my tumblr, it’s all characters…no backgrounds! I hate backgrounds!!  But you do need that for a comic, to ground stuff and set the mood.  I’ve wanted to do this for years, but never just went for it.  The other week, I was chatting with Elle’s boyfriend and he had the same dream. That made me wonder, what was I waiting for? This guy has “paralyzed” himself from starting because he wants to have perfect drawing skills before beginning.  I say, the comic will make you perfect, in time.   So I started my first one tonight!  Hopefully I’ll finish it soon and you’ll see it here tomorrow.  There’s no overarching story, but it’s all kind of “diary-esque”; little snippets of my life that I thought were worth drawing for hours and hours.

This probably sounds really ridiculous – it sounds ridiculous when I say it out loud – but one of the big things that held me back from starting a life-inspired comic (like everyone else on the internet) is self consciousness.  It would require that I draw myself….and that sent my brain for a spin.  Do I draw myself as an animal?  Do I bother drawing my face?  Do I draw what I think I look like, even if it’s guaranteed to be a 300% beautified and idealized version?  Wouldn’t that show how vain I really am, deep down, despite not wanting to admit it?  But now my mindset is, drawing practice is first and foremost.  And drawing in a timely manner. So I’m just gonna do what I do, vainness be damned.

How I Beat Molluscum Contagiosum

Most people have never heard of this virus, unless you’ve been infected.  And once you are, it can be nerve-wrackingly awful, as it deprives you of precious self-esteem and even your sex life.  There’s a lot of articles on blogs out there about how people dealt with this, and a lot of forum posts (on spammy, ad-riddled sites).  I’d like to tell my story of how I got it and dealt with it.

There WILL be pictures, way at the bottom of this article, way after the jump.  It’s technically SFW (safe for work) but there will be close ups of molluscum.  I took some pictures myself to keep track of how they looked and where they were, for my own knowledge.  Which was great because I did forget where one of them was at a certain point, because it had healed and disappeared.

Now let’s start this off with…. Continue reading

Life Update

A frozen sheet of water in Prospect Park....back in February, I think.

A frozen sheet of water in Prospect Park….back in February, I think.

It’s been a hectic year, so I thought a catch up post was in order!

I lost my job in January.  Technically, I hadn’t worked since end of December, but the parent company decided they didn’t want to keep our studio open anymore.  So my “usual spot” was gone, “effective immediately”.  After the slow January I had, things went in to overdrive. I worked every one of those 28 days of February, and a good portion of March. It could’ve been the entire March, but I was starting to go crazy…this past weekend was the first two consecutive days I had off in a long time! So I’m looking forward to taking things easy and catching up on a lot of life stuff that I haven’t been able to do. Like…MY TAXES!!

One major thing of note: I’m moving in with my boyfriend in May! One of his roommates is leaving – moving in with her own boyfriend – which means the two of us will have three connecting rooms to ourselves. These are small rooms for sure, but it’ll be nice not to need to exit the apartment to get to the bathroom.

I drew a not-to-scale floor plan below, so you can see what I mean.

Floor plan to boyfriend's apartment.  Made it really quick in Illustrator so the sizing is a bit off...I think you get the general idea!

Floor plan to boyfriend’s apartment. Made it really quick in Illustrator so the sizing is a bit off…I think you get the general idea!

So we’ll have the Office, Bedroom 1, and soon, Bedroom 2.  The lazy roommate is in Bedroom 3.  The living room needs serious reorganizing, and the kitchen is much narrower than it looks…once you consider the counters and cabinets.

Continue reading

Quick Sketch: Woman in Leather Armor

Photoshop, Intuos 5, 30 minutes.

Photoshop, Intuos 5, 30 minutes.

I purposefully wanted her to be on the androgynous side, but I think it’s a little TOO androgynous :P  Did a quick sketch in Photoshop while trying to figure out a leather armor outfit.  It’s not quite there yet.  But figured I should share the results so the world knows I’m not slacking off here!