Viewing category ‘My boss is an idiot’

Cornered Office

with Mir Kamin

I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.

To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/

Finding my road routine

Categories: A mother's work is never done, My boss is an idiot

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Last summer my family didn’t manage to get away at all, so we were hoping to schedule some R&R this summer to make up for it. We’re not a grand-vacation type of family—neither by design nor by wealth, ha—so our approach has always been a brief jaunt here, a day at the museum there, a camping weekend over there, etc. We seem to still be off our routine, though, and it took us until now (mid-July) to schedule a camping trip, and then our go-to campground was booked, so we decided to try someplace new.

Yesterday we pulled up and started setting up camp. We have a travel trailer, so it’s hardly “roughing it” in the conventional sense, but we do have to do some setup when we get here. The kids have their jobs—one of them wrangles the dog, the other one cranks down the stabilizers on the trailer—and my husband does the water and electric hookups while I pop out the tent top over our bed and get things arranged inside. Despite the long break since we last did all of this, it all went pretty quickly and soon camp was set.
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Putting on a professional… face?

Categories: My boss is an idiot, Now I'm free(lancing)

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I used to go to conferences fairly regularly—one or two a year, at least—but as I noted in my recent post about BlogHer, this will be my first conference in around two years. It seems impossible that it’s been that long, and yet… here I am. No big deal, because it’s not as if the passage of time somehow renders me incapable of behaving in public, or anything. I just pull out the pretty shoes I haven’t had a chance to wear in a while, dust off my business cards, and go do my thing. Right?

Some of you may remember that a while back I started thinking about letting my hair go gray, and then about a month later, I went for it. I’ve embraced the gray, and I’ve been growing my hair back out ever since, and as I prep for conference-going, my attention has turned to my face.

And now it’s time to embark on the makeup angst. I totally forgot about this part, plus it’s different, now, than it used to be.
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Pros and cons of the home office

Categories: A mother's work is never done, My boss is an idiot, Now I'm free(lancing)

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The common wisdom that any decision can be assessed via a simple pro/con list has always appealed to me. For one thing, it involves writing, and heaven knows I’m always up for writing down things pertaining to my tender, delicate feeeeelings. For another, it just seems… tidy. Concrete. No matter the situation, being able to lay out the pros and cons in black and white can help just about anyone gain new perspective, I’ve found.

When people ask me how I like working from home, I’m effusive in my praise for the convenience of it. Truly, I worked in a variety of places for many, many years before turning to freelancing, and I do love having a home office and the freedoms that come along with it. But in thinking over all of the realities, lately, I realize that my standard disclaimer of “it’s not for everyone” is a kind of warning. If I lay it out logically, I’m not sure it makes sense.

Let’s take a look. Surely ye olde pro/con list will help me out, here. Quick and dirty, off the top of my head… no editing.
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Heading back into the conference pool

Categories: My boss is an idiot, Now I'm free(lancing)

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I used to write here quite a bit about the value of attending conferences—I traveled regularly and spoke at conference events a few times a year, and I think it can be an invaluable way to sort of improve your freelancing career on all fronts. Just by attending an event where you’re likely to meet potential clients and/or have time to brainstorm with colleagues, you’re increasing your own knowledge base and network of potential jobs. And if you speak at one of these events, you’re honing your presentation skills, adding to your resume, and hopefully becoming more comfortable as a leader in your field. And all of this is aside from the fact that a lot of us freelancers lead fairly solitary work existences, and it’s just a good idea to get out and spend some time with other people in a work environment now and then.

In short, there’s tons of good reasons to go to conferences, present at conferences, and just generally place value on getting dressed up every so often to face the world.

I had a good rhythm going there, for a while, and then I had to take some time away from work and tend to other things, and somehow it’s now been years since I went to a conference. It wasn’t entirely intentional. I just got away from it and then it felt hard to get back to planning for and carrying out the travel and such. But I’m finally getting back on that particular horse, next month.
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Things to do to be a better freelancer

Categories: My boss is an idiot, Now I'm free(lancing)

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Theoretically I’m supposed to use this space to help other freelancer writers figure out how to do what I do, or at least what I aspire to do. Surely there’s some magic formula or fool-proof set of directions which will allow the aspiring freelance writer to land gigs, find fulfillment, make tons of money (haaaaaa!), and still balance home/family life while doing it. Right? Wrong! There’s no one way to do it because people are different, and that’s part of what’s so great about freelancing—you can call a lot of your own shots, which increases the odds of your work life actually being, you know, a good fit for your particular life.

This is a good thing. The only drawback is that it can make it kind of hard to say, “Here! Here’s a thing that will help everyone make this life more successful for themselves!” The best I can manage, most times, is a “this is what works for me” or maybe a “most freelancers I know find that….” No magic formulas, here.

But today I got to thinking that surely there are some pieces of advice which are universal in this field. I think there are. The only question, really, is whether these will make you a better freelancer or just a better human in general.
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There’s a hole in my bucket

Categories: My boss is an idiot, Now I'm free(lancing)

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I used to love that song as a kid, you know… the one about how there’s a hole in the bucket, dear Eliza, dear Eliza. Nothing seemed funnier than the notion that a string of relatively small misfortunes could lead to an endless loop of inability to do anything.

Now that I’m an adult, I know that that song is a pretty good metaphor for life, if you’re not careful. Heh.

So here’s my current bucket: I’ve decided to paint my office. This causes me plenty of anxiety already, because my office is currently just the way I want it, and there’s a lot of stuff that has to be moved and taped in order to paint, and I won’t be able to use this space for a few days, and when would be a good time to not have access to my office, exactly? Never? But it’s okay, because I have my laptop, and really, I can work anywhere, so I need to just chill out and settle down.

The first issue I ran into was the color. I’ve been living with a dreary brown (not of my choosing) for nearly six years. I thought choosing something better would be easy. That was before I started looking at paint colors, though. I described this on my personal blog as “falling down the rabbit hole” because that’s exactly what it felt like to me: as someone who tends not to be overly visual/observant, to start surveying an entire palette of color possibilities and trying to imagine how it would feel to be surrounded by any of them was overwhelming, to say the least.

But it turns out that the color-choosing is the least of my issues.
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My reality with a standing desk

Categories: Like talking but with more typing, My boss is an idiot

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When I asked for reader questions a couple of weeks ago, a loyal lurker emailed a query rather than leaving it as a comment on the post, but that’s okay, because she’s one of my favorites. In fact, she apparently remembers a post from a couple of years ago when I triumphantly announced my acquisition of a standing desk, because here’s the question:

I am curious to know about your experience with your stand-up desk. Still using it? What percentage of your day do you suppose you use it? Is it a block of time or interspersed? Some activities but not others? Do you feel better? Do you have to force yourself to use it because it’s good for you?

This is where I’m supposed to assure everyone that I use it all the time and I’ve lost weight, lowered my cholesterol, and my hair is inexplicably shinier. Right? I mean, I suppose that would be a better answer than what I’m about to say.

And really the short version of the truth is, “Hi, my name is Mir, and I am a terrible, unhealthy person.”
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Learning a good thing from doing a stupid thing

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Like talking but with more typing, My boss is an idiot

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I made a giant mistake today. Actually, it was a tiny mistake, but it felt like a giant one to me. It felt bad.

But let me back up a minute, first.

I mostly talk, in this space, about deliberate business decisions related to my career as a freelance writer. I don’t talk about my personal blog all that much because, honestly, while the personal blog certainly opened the doors that allowed me to make a career out of writing, my personal blog isn’t “work.” I make very little money from it, and other than a handy sort of living portfolio, it doesn’t figure into my professional life nearly the way almost everything else does. When I’m talking about “making my living as a writer,” that’s not what I’m talking about.

On the other hand, the personal blog is how it all started, and it’s where I’ve been writing the longest, and it’s (arguably) what I’m most “known” for, so it’s not unimportant. And I’ve been writing there coming up on nine years, so it’s all old hat for a pro like me, right?
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Three crucial business lessons from my autistic son

Categories: My boss is an idiot, Now I'm free(lancing)

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I mean, I assume it is for someone. Most people I know actually get pretty stressed out about the holidays—contrary to the “peace, love, and good cheer” hype—but when you work in a field that makes December one of your busiest months, it can sometimes feel like everyone else is getting ready for a party while you’re chained to your desk. (Pity party, table of one, please.)

December is always a hard month for me, work-wise. I work longer hours than usual, at just the time when I would rather be with my family. This particular December, I am really struggling. Due to multiple work hiatuses this year, this is really my kick-it-into-gear last chance to get some solid income in before the year’s end. We’re not traveling this year, which is both a relief (because the only thing worse than working through the holidays is working through the holidays while traveling) and a disappointment. My daughter is coming home for her first visit since moving in with her father, and that is wonderful, but I don’t want to feel like I have to work-work-work while she’s here.

Basically I am out of sorts in every possible way. But I’m going to take a page from my son’s playbook to try to get myself back into the right frame of mind.
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Must bloggers be awkward in real life?

Categories: My boss is an idiot

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[This image courtesy of Shenkitup.com, and isn't actually a picture of me. But it may as well be.]

I am, as many writers are, an introvert. But I also, as many such writers do, integrate a fair amount of being-in-public-as-part-of-work types of activities into my schedule. So I can certainly put on my Public Face (and/or my big girl panties) and interact with strangers in socially acceptable ways. It may not be the most natural thing in the world for me, but I’ve had a lot of practice and when I head to a conference, for example, I know how to balance my experience so that I have enough time to recharge and can be my best self in public.

Recently I was going about my day—actually I was at physical therapy—and someone recognized me from my personal blog. It turned out to be kind of a funny encounter, and the woman who approached me was lovely, but (as I ended up sharing on the blog) I felt very awkward at first. It caught me off guard, being recognized locally, while doing nothing more than just going about my mundane life.

And then I felt like a giant cliche.
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